The Herald Bulletin

December 30, 2010

2010's Top Stories: Locals had swift response for Haiti

By Dave Stafford
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — When an earthquake devastated Haiti in January, the response from Anderson and Madison County was swift.

Long-standing ties between Anderson University, the Church of God and numerous missions in Haiti meant some of the earliest responders to the disaster were locals. Many were at work in the impoverished nation when the cataclysmic earthquake struck, killing 230,000 people, according to the Haitian government.

Within days of the quake, missionaries in the country suddenly were confronted with an entirely new mission: survival.

AU graduate Jodie Ackerman normally taught kindergarten in a Port-Au-Prince school, but it become a command center because it was one of the few buildings standing after the quake. In a telephone interview, she said her mission in the chaos had become to coordinate medical supplies and help people find shelter.

Ackerman and her husband, John, were two of the many people with Anderson ties who helped Haiti through the disaster.

The director of the school where Ackerman worked, Steve Hersey, said at the time, “There’s a real sense we’re going to have to start rebuilding this country from scratch.”

Around Madison County, schoolchildren held fundraisers and church and civic groups pitched in to raise money for relief efforts. Within days of the quake, tens of thousands of dollars had been raised locally for the 223 Church of God congregations in Haiti, and countless thousands more had been donated for various relief efforts.