Catholic News Service photo
Students gather outside the Louverture Cleary School near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 
Catholic News Service photo
Students gather outside the Louverture Cleary School near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Political divisiveness during the campaign season hampers fundraising for good causes, says the president of a Catholic boarding school for talented but poverty-stricken Haitian children.  

Add that to the still sluggish U.S. economy, and organizations like Louverture Cleary School can face a drought in funding, said Deacon Patrick Moynihan, in Portland for a fundraiser at The Madeleine Parish. He leads The Haitian Project, a non-profit foundation that supports and operates Louverture Cleary.

During campaigns like the face off between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the future feels uncertain to donors and they hesitate, says Moynihan. During years like this, he finds himself needing to meet multiple times with each giver before gifts come through. That means he can't reach as many potential benefactors. His fundraising is 20 percent down for the year.

"It affects small and large donors alike," says Moynihan. "Rancor makes people hesitant to reach out. People get uneasy and they are less generous."
Moynihan called on Obama and Romney to campaign without targeting people and causing rifts.

Catholic teaching, Moynihan explains, shows that Obama and Romney each have part of the truth about economic and social life; individuals must be responsible and productive, but society must create institutions to support that productivity.

"It's a both-and-truth, but we have an either-or politics," Moynihan says.

Louverture Cleary, with more than 360 students, has no fat. It spends what it takes in on educating youths and getting them to college. Meanwhile, workers are continuing to make the school earthquake proof. It suffered only minor damage in the 2010 quake, but scientists say the next Haiti temblor will be stronger.

Efforts like an annual garage sale at The Madeleine are indispensable, says Moynihan. The event has raised almost $200,000 for Louverture Cleary since it began in 2002. The Portland parish also offers what Moynihan calls "great human capital," people like engineer Jack Talbott and management and best practices expert Anne Kelly Feeney, both of whom have lent their expertise to the 25-year-old school in Port au Prince. Four long-term volunteers from The Madeleine have worked at the school.

Even aside from the tight funding, says Moynihan, the only way the Haitian Project can expand is "through community" and the talent of supporters. He hopes some day to open other schools in Haiti.

"It's not a question of funding, it's a question of people, people giving part of their life or their whole life," he says.  

The Haitian Project has been approved in the Diocese of Providence, R.I. as an official association of the faithful.