How Mission Jean Day serves as a fundraising success and example
By Monique Mansour
Ed Babbie of Farmington Hills noticed a glaring need in his community. He saw fathers not getting as involved in school events and school related activities with their children, and he decided to make a plan and do something to change that.
He went on to found a Dads’ Club at Our Lady of Refuge Catholic School in Orchard Lake. According to the Dads’ Club mission statement, it is an “organization made up of dedicated fathers of the school. The purpose of the club is to support our sons and daughters, in a spirit of volunteerism through various events held throughout the calendar year, as well as provide our time and talents in support of various fundraising and social events at the school. The club enriches the Holy Trinity experience for our sons and daughters and serves as a vehicle for fathers to be more active in school life.”
There are five pillars behind the vision of Dads’ Club, which include discipline, excellence, motivation, strength, and spirituality.
Babbie, President of Dads’ Club, works alongside other board members, directors, and committee heads to create a more uplifting and enriching educational experience for all. Fundraising efforts are taken seriously at Dads’ Club.
“In the past two years, we’ve raised nearly $150,000 for our school, which has been put to great use for educational purposes,” said Babbie. Richard Dalimonte serves as Vice President for Dads’ Club, Robert Goodman as Treasurer, Tadd Klimmek as Secretary, and Joe Barbat, Trevor Wisniewski, Ray Kalasho, and Chris Toma as committee heads.
Toma of Commerce Township, is not only a committee head of Dads’ Club, but also a strong supporter of the Adopt-a-Refugee-Family and Help Iraq programs. He was inspired by the success of Dads’ Club and decided to use the momentum garnered by the club to create even more positive, long-lasting change. He set-up a time to talk with the school principal, Mr. Robert Pyles, about using the school’s monthly fundraising drive of Mission Jean Day –a day when students wear jeans to school instead of their school uniform and donate to worthwhile causes –to support fellow Iraqis who are suffering during the season of Lent.
“I’m so grateful to Mr. Pyles’ support. He allowed me to use March 23rd, 2018, as a fundraising day to help our brothers and sisters hurting in Iraq,” said Toma. “Our small school was able to raise nearly $1,000 that day. I thought to myself…if other Catholic schools in the greater Metro Detroit area followed suit, we could put forth so much more good into our shared world.”
“It was incredible to see the commitment of the students who got involved with Mission Jean Day,” said Babbie. “They understood that their efforts were helping people, and that gave them a purpose. It was a powerful day.”
Now, both Babbie and Toma are working to spread awareness behind the power of grassroots fundraising. “We need to teach our children the importance of helping people. That means helping those here in our local communities, but it also means helping our fellow community members in Iraq,” said Toma. “We nearly raised $1,000 from children and teenagers between the ages of three to fourteen on our Mission Jean Day at Our Lady of Refuge,” said Babbie. “There’s lots of potential for our other Catholic schools to raise more money for this worthwhile cause.”
A school or an organization interested in implementing a similar fundraiser for schools with students aged fourteen and under can contact Chris Toma via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For schools with students aged fourteen and over, Rafed Yaldo, Founder of HelpIraq.org, can be contacted at email@example.com.
“We need our younger generations to get involved and we need to help them understand the pain that our fellow brothers and sisters feel. I’m very blessed to have my father, my mentor, who was a priest in Iraq. Because of his mentoring, I do what I do for our community,” said Toma. “I would encourage those who want more information on the Adopt-a-Refugee-Family program to visit www.adoptarefugeefamily.org. We have events that take place throughout the year, including our upcoming golf outing on June 6 at Shenandoah Country Club,” said Babbie.
“It’s also important to note that a corporate match program for employees working for large corporations is very common. Oftentimes, a corporation will match up to a certain amount each year for nonprofit organizations,” said Toma. “This is a great conversation for employees to have with their companies and an excellent way for corporations to be made aware of these social justice issues that are occurring.”
There is strength in numbers, and it’s made to be more impactful when it’s for a worthwhile cause.