April 25, 2012 - Erica Cale of Independence Township may not be having a ball during her visit home, but she's planning one.
Erica Cale of Clarkston, with a child she helped in Honduras. Photo provided
(click for larger version)
Cale, 20, spends most of her time in Honduras running Helping Hearts Helping Hands, a mission she founded to help girls in need.
"This is where I want to be, this is where God wants me to be," Erica said.
She's in Clarkston working on the Ruby Ball fund raiser, 5 p.m.-12 a.m., May 5, at Deer Lake Athletic Club.
"This year's event is expected to be larger than ever with awesome live and silent auction items, appetizers, dinner, DJ music by Ben Mackie, dancing, the popular Infinity Photobooth will be back this year, raffles, awesome door prizes, and so much more," she said.
Funds will be used on several new projects.
"We have started working with local hospitals helping children with severe medical conditions," she said. "We're branching out with sponsorship programs, working in many more villages in Honduras."
Her brother Sean, 21, recently visited the mission with friends from Central Michigan University.
"We were able to install four water purification systems that each produce about 70 gallons of clean drinking water daily," she said. "It's very exciting to see progress in the health of children – it's saving lives."
The purifiers, which use sand and rock to clean water without moving parts, chemicals, or electricity, cost about $90 each and last for at least 10 years, she said.
"There are now many, many families and children benefiting from this clean water – it's life changing," she said. "We plan on installing more purification systems down the road."
"The things we take for granted mean so much to them," said Nancy Cale, Erica's mother. "It's amazing to see the mission continue to grow, and how determined Erica is. She hasn't lost sight of her goals."
Challenges continue to be cultural differences, severe poverty, and crime.
"The situation is more dangerous, with murders, drug smuggling, and the political situation," Nancy said.
The effect of crime is more pronounced in the cities, Erica said.
"The small villages aren't affected as much," she said. "But the economy is bad all over the world. Fathers who used to work are now unemployed. There's no government support."
"There are definitely more people who need help," Nancy said.
Erica plans to continue branching out, helping more children and families get medical care and education.
"Education is very important," she said. "It can make a difference. There are jobs in the cities, but you can't get a job without a good education. That's harder for those in the villages."
Clarkston support also includes school supplies donated by children and schools, and knitted items, blankets, and clothing made and donated by local churches and groups.
Auction items for the ball include vacation stays, sports and music lessons, hand crafted items, certificates for services or goods, gift cards, gift baskets, and sports or entertainment memorabilia.
"We're always looking for auction items, anything, really," she said.
Tickets are $75 if purchased before April 28, $85 at the door; table of 10, $595 before April 28. For those under 21, tickets are $35 before April 28, $45 at the door. After 10 p.m., admission is $20.
Childcare is free at Starry Safari Pajama Party at Clarkston United Methodist Church, 4:30 p.m.-12 a.m. Children can wear their pajamas and bring a pillow and sleeping bag for games, crafts, movies and a scavenger hunt.
For more information, email HelpingHeartsHelping Hands@hotmail.com, check www.helpingheartshelping hands.org, or call 248-660-4507 or 248-830-6871.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.