The St. Joseph Family is an organization that ministers to the most disadvantaged populations in Haiti—former street children, child slaves, and individuals with disabilities. Michael Geilenfeld, a former brother with Mother Teresa’s Brothers of Charity, started a small home in 1985 for five boys to bring them off the streets of Port-au-Prince and offer them a family life. Today, more than twenty-seven years later, more than 70 children are in-residence at three St. Joseph Family homes, approximately 120 children receive their education through Lekòl Sen Trinite day-school programs at Trinity House and the day program at Wings of Hope, and hundreds more benefit from SJF outreach programs. Transformed from being the rejected ones in Haiti to being among the very best of servant-leaders, members of the St. Joseph Family have reached out and changed the lives of countless other Haitian boys and girls to be the best they can be.
The RDTH performing in the old St. Joseph's Home for Boys
The St. Joseph Family is also remarkable in its commitment to servant leadership. Since its founding in 1985, the St. Joseph Family has exemplified this virtue, with all residents seeking humble rewards for their dedication to lifting up Haiti’s most vulnerable youth. Today, a new generation of leadership has emerged as the core of this mission, with dozens of St. Joseph Family graduates comprising various staff and governance roles. Indeed, the very existence of Trinity House, Lekòl Sen Trinite, and Wings of Hope can be attributed to the young men of the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, who saw the needs of their fellow countrymen and women and responded with a resounding commitment to spreading the mission of the St. Joseph Family to new populations and communities. As the official governing body of the St. Joseph Family, the St. Joseph Family Board of Directors includes Luckner “Maya” Fond-Rose, Jacky Asse, Bill Nathan, Melchi Petit–Homme, Walnes Cangas, and Daniel Jean Mary, all alumni of the SJHB, as well as Michael Geilenfeld and Renee Dietrich.
Children come to the St. Joseph Family in many different ways. The St. Joseph Family is in good standing the Haitian department of social services — Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR) — and many of our children at the three homes come as referrals from IBESR. Other children find their way to the St. Joseph Family in various ways — through referrals from pastors, priests, nuns and other non-profit organizations who know the St. Joseph Family and who have identified a child who is at-risk or who is abandoned or orphaned; through referrals from hospitals and clinics who have working relationships with the St. Joseph Family and who have children abandoned at their facilities; from the parents and families of disabled children who cannot care for them at home; and some of our children were abandoned on our doorstep. Each child’s story is unique.
The in-residence populations at the three homes are kept relatively low so that the maximum positive impact on the lives of the children can take place. The boys in-residence at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys and Trinity House graduate from the St. Joseph Family when they are 21-years-old, or the summer following their twenty-first birthday so that they can finish the school year. Following graduation from the program the young men are expected to move out of the homes and become self-sufficient. Some may be subsequently employed by the St. Joseph Family. The children in-residence at Wings of Hope will never be able to live independently, but the leadership and staff at Wings of Hope strives to help the children and young adults develop as many independent living skills as possible given the limitations of their particular disabilities.
Distinct from its funding partners in terms of governance, staffing, and policies, the St. Joseph Family is committed to excellence on all levels and regularly meets with partner organizations, including Hearts with Haiti, to develop strategies for growth and development. In the eyes of the St. Joseph Family, the sky is the limit, with only our fears limiting our capacity to grow and achieve our full potential.
Click here to get in touch with the St. Joseph Family directly and visit the St. Joseph Family website here and Facebook page here for much more information on this remarkable ministry.