Religion Notes: Christian group and car dealership provide van for after-school program
Posted by The Coastal Star on April 1, 2020 at 12:30pm
By Janis Fontaine
Thanks to the ingenuity of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Commandery of the Palm Beaches, and the generosity of a local nonprofit and a Delray Beach car dealership, kids in Belle Glade will ride to their after-school program in a safe, clean, refurbished van.
The Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem is an ecumenical Christian order focused on helping sick and poor people. It dates back nearly 1,000 years. The Palm Beach Commandery has been supporting the work of the First Haitian Baptist Church Youth & Children Development Center, which provides a hot meal, homework help and a safe space to play each day to elementary- and middle-school students in Belle Glade. High-schoolers mentor the kids, who are mostly children of migrant workers.
The program’s aging van was limping along, and two Palm Beach Commandery members stepped up to help. Candace Tamposi of Ocean Ridge worked with the Cathleen McFarlane Foundation of West Palm Beach to acquire grant money and Marie Ryan, who works for Grieco Mazda, secured a deal from Grieco Motors. The van has room for 15 passengers.
The SOSJ’s designated philanthropic project is to build a new multipurpose building for the First Haitian Baptist Church Youth & Children Development Center. The organization will continue work on that goal, but in the meantime, the wheels on the bus will continue to go ’round and ’round.
Need Your Help for Food Donations Due to Corona Virus Shutdowns
Pastor Morana St. Hilaire of the First Haitian Baptist Church of Belle Glade informed us that children can’t get to the schools to pick up lunches and that several families are in need of food. There are also new families just coming into the area.
We are calling out to anyone who would like to make a monetary donation to help. The stores are crowded and we are going to get what we can from BJ’s or Walmart.
If you wish you can make your donation to SOSJPB and mail it to my home address at:
Toni Mastrullo, 7036 Vesuvio Place, Boynton Beach, FL 33437. You will receive a tax donation. If you intend to donate, please email me at with the amount so that I can track how much to spend.
We have always fulfilled our mission to help the sick and the poor and you have always answered the call. May God Bless and watch over you and your families.
Yours in St. John,
Belle Glade Development Center Receives Van from South County Supporters
Two members of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Commandery of the Palm Beaches (SOSJ) made a dream come true for the First Haitian Baptist Church Children and Youth Development Center in Belle Glade.
SOSJ member and Ocean Ridge resident, Candace Tamposi, secured a grant from the Cathleen McFarlane Foundation, Inc. to procure a 15-passenger van used to pick-up and deliver children to the Church’s Development Center. The bus previously used was unrepairable. Denis P. Coleman, director of the Cathleen McFarlane Foundation, visited the Center this past fall and understood this critical need.
After procuring the van, SOSJ member and Delray Beach resident, Marie Ryan, an employee of Grieco Mazda, spoke to Michael Grieco, Jr., CEO of Grieco Automotive Group, who found and completely refurbished the van.
SOSJ has designated the building of a new multi-purpose Development Center for the Haitian Baptist Church as its philanthropic project. The Center offers a hot meal, aid with homework and a safe environment for children ages kindergarten thru 8th grade.
Pastor Morales St. Hilaire, from the First Haitian Baptist Church of Belle Glade said, “It is a dream come true for us.” He added, “We are so blessed to have a community that understands need and helps a neighboring community.”
To our friends and Members of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, Commandery of the Palm Beaches:
We want to bring you up to date with the most current status of our Belle Glade project which has been the focus of the Palm Beach Commandery for the past two years.
Our efforts have been so blessed! Since May, 2018, we have hosted many events and have made presentations to various individuals and foundations. We are proud to announce that $443,177 has been raised! Yes, this project truly has been blessed!
The First Haitian Baptist Church, our partner in this effort, has also been active and has raised close to $70,000. With these resources they were able to purchase the adjacent parcel of land which recently became available. The original plan was to tear down the current home of the Development Center, which lies behind the church, and construct the new facility on that parcel of land. This change in plans provides so many benefits, among them: The Development Center will now have great exposure being right on one of the main streets in downtown Belle Glade, and there will be no disruption in the Center’s operation as the children will move directly into their new space as soon as complete. The original site will provide much-needed additional off-street parking and a playground for the church and the Center.
This new parcel of land already has a concrete building which will be incorporated into the new design as adjacent kitchen facilities. The Church has already replaced the roof on this structure.
In April of last year, an Architect came forward with an offer to create the plans pro bono. He provided initial renderings for the proposed building, and we understood he was moving forward on the final plans. Next phase plans were to be submitted to the Board of Directors of the Church by the end of October, 2019, but they were delayed. Just before the end of the year, we learned that the architect would not be able to follow through on the remainder of the work due to personal circumstances. We keep him in our prayers.
We have now undertaken the process of finding a new architect, and have already approached four to request they submit bids. Soil tests and percolation tests have been completed, and we await the results. These are necessary before architectural and engineering drawings can be finalized. Once received we can move forward to obtain quotes from Architects.
The Board of Trustees of the SOSJ PB have been active with the Church Board every step of the way. Although we feel we have lost a few months, we are still striving forward toward our goal.
Once the architect is selected, we hope to pick up the momentum in getting City approval, then permitting, selecting contractors, etc., and then… put shovels in the ground! That will be a glorious day! And the first of many for the new Youth and Children Development Center!
We will keep you updated on the progress and ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as we help the Lord’s sick and the poor.
Additional donations are welcome to reach our initial goal of $500,000. We realize it is very likely to require a bit more, but we continue to work hard to complete the fund raising for this worthwhile project.
Children Helping Children
Warms the Hearts of Those in Belle Glade
Lake Worth, FL, Feb. 6, 2019 – When the Sacred Heart School children, in Lake Worth, heard the story about children in Belle Glade attending their after-school program in a dangerously dilapidated, 1940s building, they were ready to help. To date, Sacred Heart School children have raised $2,707.44 to help fund the rebuilding of the First Haitian Baptist Church Children’s Development Center in Belle Glade, which is so desperately needed.
The children learned about the Development Center through Sacred Heart School Principal, Candace Tamposi, and the School’s Grandmother of the Year, Nancy Marshall, both members of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem Hospitaller, Palm Beach Commandery, an ecumenical organization that is focusing its fundraising efforts to help build this new Center for the Belle Glade children.
This past fall, Sacred Heart School students in the 4th and 7th grade donated their photographs for an auction, held at a reception in a private Palm Beach home, which raised $2,005. The photographs were taken at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge as part of The Everglades, Through the Eyes of Children Photo Project, an annual event at Sacred Heart School.
During December, middle school children raised $400 for the Belle Glade Project from their Christmas Store. The middle school students acquired a loan from the school office (with interest) to buy Christmas items from the Dollar Store for gifts. They did a marketing plan, created commercials to advertise on the school Panther News station (on You Tube) and created posters. They sold the items in their classroom store, paid back the loan and donated $400 to the Belle Glade project.
“I was surprised to see the ingenuity and determination the students gave for this project,” said Rocio Shaw, the middle school literature and special needs resource teacher.
In January, the entire school completed a Penny Drive for Catholic School Week and selected to give the money to the Belle Glade Project. The Penny Drive raised $302.44.
“We love that children are helping other children,” said Principal Tamposi, “It is an important lesson in caring and supporting others in need.”
Glades Central student awarded $40,000 college scholarship
Posted: 5:06 PM, Jan 16, 2019
Updated: 4:53 AM, Jan 17, 2019