By Julie BUTCHER
Julie Kay Stallcup has known what’s important since she was “a young kid” growing up in Northwestern Arkansas.
“My momma and my daddy taught me right from wrong and to help others. My passions have always been helping others, especially the homeless – and dance. This year will be the 16th Thanksgiving we’ll load up 150 people and all the ‘fixin’s’ and go feed the homeless,” Stallcup explained, bubbling with excitement, bouncing between classes at the Revolution Dance Center in Montrose, which she has owned and run for 11 years.
“Every year we do a service project for the entire dance year. Students get to know the project and can contribute and participate in their own ways. In the past, we’ve helped the Ronald McDonald House; last year we helped at the City of Hope. Next year we hope to focus on human trafficking and we hope to go to Cambodia.
This year we’re going to Haiti.”
Stallcup recalls setting an initial goal of raising $4,000 when the planning for this year’s project began.
“But you know, that’s how this kind of humanitarian mission comes together!” she said. “The mother of a student showed me this video (of the Melissa’s Hope orphanage) – the orphanage we’re going to – here it is,” Stallcup is unstoppable.
“Melissa’s Hope – melissashope.org – here’s the video of the director Jean Pascal Bain. He and his wife run the school and the orphanage after previous missionaries ran out and left them. It’s in Croix-des Bouquets, just northeast of Port Au Prince.”
Many of the kids there are special needs, some severely, and I recently received my certification to teach special needs dance, and it is all just coming together,” Stallcup stopped, not for a breath, but to attend to a student and her mom, making certain the girl had the right sized costume part.
Nineteen dance teachers, students, and missionaries from across the United States will leaves for Haiti on June 7. Thankful for the overwhelming support received from the community, Stallcup, along with 15-year-old dance student Camryn Steele of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, will join the group delivering dance shoes and other items; the dance studio community has also raised $4,000, which is targeted for building a sensory-protected room for the children at the orphanage.
Families have donated dance shoes of all varieties for the mission: ballet, tap, jazz and costumes. Additionally, the two will bring items specifically requested: diapers, crayons, bubbles, temporary tattoos.
“We’re also bringing jewelry for the caregivers,” Stallcup added, effusive in her enthusiasm about the trip. “Most of the children at the orphanage are special needs, so we are planning special dances and exercises to involve them. And we’ll perform for all of the families.”
“Do you know these kids have never seen a dance recital?” she added. “All of this is what we hope to bring – the magic of healing through dance!”
Revolution Dance Studio at 2278 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose has been in the neighborhood for 12 years and boasts a membership of more than 1,100 families.
Stallcup promises to share photos of the mission and to sit back down with the Crescenta Valley Weekly after the trip.
“I just want our kids to know how very blessed we are, to give them just a little taste of what other people go through, offer a little perspective, to inspire them to act and help,” she said.
Donations may still be made on a GoFundMe page specific to this effort: Chasing Butterflies.
According to the site, here are some staggering facts about the situation in Haiti:
42% of children less than 5 years of age suffer from stunting of growth;
Unemployment is now 90% in Haiti and 80% of Haiti’s people live in abject poverty;
There are over 400,000 children without parents in Haiti;
One out of five children will die before the age of 5;
Haiti has the highest maternal death ratio in the western hemisphere leaving many children orphaned within their first week of life;
More than 80% do not have access to clean drinking water;
In rural areas only 10% of the inhabitants have electricity;
Haiti is one of the three countries in the world with the lowest daily caloric intake per person.