The last lesson was demonstrated Tuesday morning when Kim, Dave, Frankie, 2, and the couple’s two daughters Emma, 7, and Izzie, 3, visited Lyman Elementary School to accept a check for $124.14 from Martha Griswold’s second-grade class. The money will be sent to Heartline Ministries, which runs the Maranatha Orphanage where Frankie used to live.
Frankie, like many other Haitian orphans in the process of being adopted, was granted humanitarian pardon after an earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. Though the adoption process might not be legally complete for a year or more, Frankie is now home with his family in Spartanburg.
Griswold said she was touched when, after learning about the earthquake, her class of 19 immediately offered to help. The class decided to take home film canisters marked with the letter “H” and collect loose change. The project was dubbed “$100 by the 100th Day: The Helping Haiti Project.” The goal was surpassed in less than a week.
After hearing about Frankie’s homecoming, class members requested to send their money to Heartline’s Maranatha Orphanage, which today is home to a makeshift medical clinic.
“It’s such compassion and caring, for them to know there is a world beyond Lyman,” Griswold said. “And then Frankie showed up. This is just amazing for them.”
In unison, Griswold’s students called Frankie by name when the Rhodeses walked into the classroom, equipped with a box full of cupcakes topped with the Haitian flag.
“He’s just like us, but he speaks other languages and he lived in a different country,” said Courtney Cogburn, 8.
The Rhodeses took time to answer students’ questions about Frankie, like what language he speaks (Creole) and what his new favorite food is (pizza). He loves to watch Barney on television and is adjusting to sleeping in a room by himself. Pillows are a new commodity, and Frankie likes to collect them into piles.
He had his first experience playing in snow not long after arriving home; temperatures in Haiti rarely dip below 80 degrees.
Dave Rhodes thanked the class on behalf of the family for their generous donation to help Frankie’s homeland.
“Your giving makes a huge difference in kids like Frankie’s lives,” he said.
In general, Kim said Frankie hasn’t missed a beat since making the transition to life in America, and his older sisters have welcomed him with open arms and hearts.
“I still can’t believe it when I look at all my children and he’s here,” Kim said, looking on as Frankie joined in on a book reading with the class.
“This is just so neat, to see kids come together, no matter what walk of life they’re in,” she said. “I think there’s something very powerful to give to someone else, and we’ve been blessed to be on the receiving end of it.”