Doris Schulte was afraid that no one would show up for the annual Reiser Relief Keep the Wheel Turning fund-raiser for the people of Haiti April 24 at The Courtyards of Andover.
That was because the Rev. Bernard Reiser, the founding pastor of Church of the Epiphany, Coon Rapids, in 1964 who launched Reiser Relief following a trip to the impoverished country in 1996, died in late December 2011 at the age of 86.
But Schulte, the vice president of the Reiser Relief Board, need not have worried.
The Courtyards of Andover was filled for the event, which included silent and live auctions featuring, among other items, some of Reiser’s personal possessions and four signed copies of “Reiser’s Rambling” as well as music by Must Be Brass and Sherwin Linton and his wife Pam, hors d’oeuvres, punch and wine.
“I was thrilled by the crowd,” Schulte said.
“And Father was very much there in spirit.”
Last year’s Keep the Wheel Turning event raised $85,000 and, according to Schulte, attendance was a bit down from the 2011 benefit.
“But there were a significant number of people there to support the program,” Schulte said.
“There was great spirit and enthusiasm.”
Reiser’s death has not ended the mission of Reiser Relief, Schulte said.
Far from it. “Reiser Relief will continue on to keep Father’s legacy alive,” she said.
According to a Reiser Relief brochure, the program provides essential services to aid the people of Haiti in their day-to-day lives.
These include providing fresh water, stocking food centers and funding education and elder care facilities.
Many of the Reiser Relief projects take place in or near Cite Soleil, a slum near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
For example, Reiser Relief funds a water truck that operates six days a week, delivering fresh water, free of charge, to poor neighborhoods, of Cite Soleil.
In addition, Reiser Relief partners with Coon Rapids-based Feed My Starving Children, to send packaged meals to the people of Haiti.
Mark Crea, Feed My Starving Children executive director and chief executive officer, was one of the speakers at the Keep the Wheel Turning benefit.
According to Crea, Reiser Relief donations enabled Feed My Starving Children to send 200,000 meals to Haiti in 2011.
And that is continuing this year, Crea said.
Indeed, Feed My Starving Children sends more meals to Haiti than any of the other 70 countries where it distributes food, he said.
“God bless Reiser Relief,” Crea said.
In addition to the silent and live auctions, the event had a Heads or Tails? fund-raiser and a raffle drawings for both a $1,000 prize and Reiser’s nativity set.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]