Couple will see school they founded in Haiti
CARROLLWOOD - Gil and Bonnie Bailie never have seen the school they founded in Haiti. But next month the Carrollwood Village couple will travel to the Institut Classique de Montrouis, which they launched in 2004 after hearing of the need in the Caribbean country. Their next goal, which they plan to pursue while in Haiti, is to find a location for a permanent campus for the 120 students in kindergarten through sixth grade who now attend classes in seven rooms of a church. To help pay for the building and to help with the school's operations, the Bailies are hosting a dinner Sunday night at Gio's Restaurant, 3621 W. Waters Ave.Gil Bailie, 68, is a retired manufacturer and retains part ownership in some businesses; Bonnie Bailie, 66, is a retired regional manager for a drug company. Gil Bailie said they started the school north of Port-au-Prince after he met a young man from Haiti in 2002 who was visiting his men's group at Grace Family Church. "We just hit it off," Bailie said. "When he came back to the States again in 2004, he told me his passion was to start a school and we decided to support him." The school began with 12 students in first grade. Each year another grade was added. The school teaches English and has a Christian base. Students wear uniforms and families pay $10 a year for each child to attend. The Bailies, until three years ago, covered the remainder of the school's expenses. "Then four hurricanes hit. And that was before the earthquake" in January 2010 that devastated the country, Bailie said. With the hurricanes, families lost almost everything and children arrived at school hungry, Bailie said. So the school began providing meals, an expense the Bailies could not handle by themselves. "We started a little dinner fundraiser with some friends and this will be our third," Gil Bailie said, adding that about 80 people attend the dinners and another 50 couples contribute financially. Jeff Greenacre, a Lake Keystone area resident, is one of the supporters. He said he does it for humanitarian reasons, "as the tragedy there has been just tremendous." "We are a business-oriented nation and this shows good relations with others," Greenacre said. The school provides books and school supplies for its students, and teachers are receiving computers. Donated musical instruments have been shipped to the school. "Every dime we receive we put into the school," Bailie said.