I can barely believe it. Who would have thought? Out of such immense sorrow and grief, that a home for at-risk girls in Haiti would rise?
God is good.
I can barely believe it. Who would have thought? Out of such immense sorrow and grief, that a home for at-risk girls in Haiti would rise?
God is good.
The following article was written by Sammi Wendling of the Lake Geneva Regional News on May 17, 2017
FONTANA — As a faith-filled child, Avery McCarthy loved God and focused her life on finding ways to help people feel less alone or afraid. Those who knew her said she adored telling others about Jesus.
Bridget McCarthy, Avery’s mother, said her daughter was passionate about finding ways to assist children in Haiti.
Avery was killed instantly in a car accident four and a half years ago. She was 11.
But while Avery is gone, her mission still lives on.
McCarthy, in her daughter’s honor, has spent the last 4 1/2 years building Averyday Ministries, which raises funds for mission trips and is building a home for girls in Haiti.
Faced with a decision
McCarthy said her daughter’s tenacious plan to assist Haiti children wasn’t fully understood until she was gone.
“When she died, I realized all the plans that she had were good ones, and I felt sad that they weren’t going to happen,” McCarthy said. “But then I said, ‘wait a second. She paved the way and she showed us what was important.’ And it was up to us to decide if we wanted to continue that or not.”
Avery’s goal was to get others to join the journey of good will.
“She didn’t just want to tell people about Jesus, she wanted to tell other people about Jesus and have others tell people about Jesus,” McCarthy said. “She wanted to help people in Haiti, but not just by herself. She wanted everyone to join in.”
After Avery’s passing, McCarthy said she was faced with a decision.
“There was a point where I realized that all of her ambitions could have died with her, or we could pick up the pieces and continue,” she said.
McCarthy, despite her grief, held a Christian concert in honor of Avery soon after the accident, with the help of her friend, Ginger Leyda.
That concert became the foundation for Averyday Ministries.
“We formed the organization and became an official nonprofit, but it started with the first concert,” Leyda said. “She was a friend who needed help and I thought I could help her.”
The nonprofit focuses on gathering funds for mission trips to Haiti and supports ministers already in the third-world country.
It also is halfway done building The Avery House in Haiti, a home for young girls.
“It’s not just finding the property and building it, it’s being able to also continue to provide food, safe water, continued education fees and school uniforms, teaching them business skills (and) providing medical care,” she said.
Often, these girls have between a 6th to 8th grade education level and have little marketable skills, McCarthy said.
Many will end up in the homes of abusive men or in the sex industry to make ends meet.
Which is why McCarthy said The Avery House is especially important.
“I might not be able to take care of my own daughter anymore, but I do have the ability to help care for someone else’s,” she said. “These girls need our love and our protection and they deserve a future.”
Averyday Ministries also supports programs that Avery was passionate about when she was alive, like the Delavan Christian School, a free library and the UW-Whitewater Gymhawks, a youth gymnastics program.
At first, McCarthy had no intention of visiting Haiti.
“I had no desire to go, and didn’t even know where it was,” McCarthy said. “The whole time she was alive, I didn’t look at a map once. It was something she was constantly talking about, and you take that for granted … but when she passed and we started the program, my thought was that we were going to raise funds so others would go to Haiti.”
However, things changed after an unexpected phone call from a woman going to Haiti, who told McCarthy she was compelled to invite her on the trip.
“I said that I don’t go, I just give money for others to go,” McCarthy said. “But this woman said she felt she was supposed to ask me to go on this trip, and I told her I would pray on it and if God wants me to go, he will find a way.”
McCarthy soon found out the deadline was the next morning. Still hesitant, she called the group leader who immediately said ‘yes.’
“I walked into it thinking, ‘I have never been to this church before’ and ‘I don’t know who these people are,’” she said. “I was thinking, ‘this is ridiculous, what am I doing?’ But I walked in and all these people were people who were tied to Avery in a way.”
From a parent whose daughter went to daycare with Avery to a group leader who had met Avery, everyone on the trip had been touched by the 11-year-old.
“We called it the ‘Avery Trip’ because everyone who went was connected to Avery somehow,” she said. “Here’s this trip that I wasn’t interested in, and everyone there had a connection. I was overwhelmed.”
Since then, McCarthy has visited Haiti more than six times in the past four and a half years.
Continuing the mission
Leyda said that the continued growth of Averyday Ministries allows McCarthy to give a voice for her daughter.
“Her mission is to make people aware that kids can make a difference,” Leyda said. “Whether it is in your local community or whether it is in a little community in Haiti, just little things we can do to help each other and be thankful. And I think that is her mission — to empower ourselves and others and to keep Avery’s spirit of giving and generosity and thoughtfulness alive.”
And there are no signs of slowing down.
The nonprofit is hosting a concert at the Young Auditorium in Whitewater on Friday, May 26 at 7 p.m. Christian signer and songwriter JJ Heller will perform.
Tickets for the concert are $12 and can be purchased by calling (262)-472-2222.
“The concert is so important because I think this is Avery’s chance to get everyone in a seat together and hear about what she loved — and that is Jesus,” McCarthy said. “She wanted people to have fun, she loved music and this is what we do to continue it.”
The concert is a reminder for people who may be suffering, she added.
“You can grow something really beautiful out of something that, at first, appears ugly,” she said. “And so, for other families out there who are going through something hard, this is an example of ‘’you don’t have to be in this dark pit that you are left in.’ You can grow something beautiful from this.”
The ERV Bible puts it this way: “So always tell each other the wrong things you have done. Then pray for each other. Do this so that God can heal you.”
I learned this sitting at a small children’s table covered in light dust. The hot Haitian sun was beating down and we were all exhausted. I sat with my head in my hands not knowing the right words to say. My sponsor son staring faraway with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas. Our interpreter smiled, giggled a little and shrugged his shoulders.
There had been “issues.” Disobedience. Lies. Disrespect. While they didn’t think my sponsor son was the ringleader, he certainly was not innocent and definitely played a part. A very wrong part.
We had sat down to talk. I was grateful for the opportunity. Overwhelmed with appreciation that the American missionary, Amber, was so invested in the lives and hearts of these children that she wanted and insisted that we try talking to figure out what exactly was going on. In a culture where survival is the number one – and many times the only emotion, talking about how our words and actions can hurt another person was not an easy task. But we were committed to trying.
It took awhile, but eventually my sponsor son came to see that what he had said and done was flat out wrong. It didn’t matter the why. It didn’t matter that not all the little details were correct. It only mattered that his wrong had hurt someone else. And it was up to him to apologize and make it right.
I was used to this simple formula for apologizing: go to the person you wronged and say you’re sorry. Then it’s done, over with, and you can move on.
So I was a little taken aback when Amber turned to my son and said that he must find a staff member he trusted to confess to. And then he must ask that staff member to pray for him.
What?! Get other people involved? Tell someone else his mistake? Wouldn’t that just embarrass him? Wouldn’t that humiliate him?
But God tells us to confess our sins. Tell people about the wrongs we have done. Don’t hide those shortcomings trying to pretend you’re almighty and perfect. We’re ALL sinners! And when we hide what we have done we bury it with shame and embarrassment and it festers and grows inside of us until we’re convinced that all we’re made up of is rotten stuff.
But if we take our sins out – hold them out for God and others to see – great things can happen. We realize we are not alone. We realize our imperfect can be made beautiful through Christ. No longer are we hiding our shame, but we are taking proactive steps to improving.
Later that evening I found my sponsor son and asked if he had done what he was asked to. A big smile crossed his face. In his broken English he explained, “yes! I ask Wilfred. I tell him I do bad things but I don’t want to do bad things anymore. I tell him I need him to pray for me so I can do good things and he say he will pray for me. He pray that I will listen to God!”
He had found strength and hope and joy in his confession. He had found that he no longer had to hide or duck his head down in shame when walking past people he thought knew of his bad decisions. Instead, he could walk proudly knowing that others were aware of his struggles and instead of condemning him, offered up prayers of support and love.
See, God doesn’t want us going around pointing fingers at other people gossiping in hushed voices the bad things we’ve heard they’ve done. He wants us to band together, gather strength from one another, hold each other up and be accountable so that He can HEAL us!
What is troubling you today? What thing are you hiding? What do you know deep down inside yourself that you are struggling with but you don’t know how to initiate a change?
Find someone you trust. Confess to them your struggle. And confess your desire to heal. Then ask them to pray for you. God will do amazing things in your heart!
Homework Assignment: Watch this video.
Watch if you’re a young man. Or a young woman. Watch if you have a son or a daughter. Watch if you’re teacher, or a preacher, or a counselor, or a neighbor. Watch if you’re a friend or an auntie or an uncle. Watch if you’re a grandma or a grandpa.
And then share this wisdom.
I’ve been singing this song, as loud as I can, in praise and worship, completely broken open for my God to see, tears streaming down both cheeks. Because life is hard. Big hard, y’all. But, whatever’s in front of me I’ll choose to sing Hallelujah.
Something about our society really pushes this idea that we have to “find our purpose.” And if we can’t find it we’re somehow incredible failures at life.
We look for our purpose in schools and degrees and licenses that will allow us to put capital letters after our name.
We look for our purpose in beauty salons and malls, thinking that maybe, with the right hairstyle and the perfect pair of jeans, our purpose will suddenly manifest itself.
We look for our purpose in relationships, pushing for marriage to a partner we hope will change and then we’ll be happy. And when we can’t find our purpose in that relationship we’ll have children so we can look for our purpose in them.
We look for our purpose in jobs and careers others say will make us feel good, but when they don’t, we think there must be something wrong with us and maybe we don’t have a purpose after all. Or maybe we’re not smart enough or good enough or qualified enough to ever find our purpose and we’ll continue to live a meaningless life, wasting the time we’ve been given.
But what if… what if God already revealed our purpose?
What if it’s been hiding out in the open all along? Something so obvious we keep walking past it?
In John 13:34 [ESV] we read these words: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Read that again….
God tells us that we are to love one another just as He loves us.
What if that is what we’re supposed to be doing? What if loving others in the way God loves us is why we’re here? What we’re supposed to get right?
Not just going through the motions, or – if we’re brutally honest with ourselves – just loving the easy people; the ones we like, the ones who are kind, the ones who shower us with compliments and praise and encouragement.
What if we really started living this purpose of loving others in a Christ-like love? What would that look like? To our neighbors? To the aggravating lady behind us in line? The angry parent at the basketball game? The kid who is sitting by themselves at lunch? The socially awkward person that makes conversation so difficult?
How would our choices change if we started really loving the poor? The sick? The people no one else wants to talk to? The people everyone else turns away from?
I work part time at our local library and for one week every couple of months a group of homeless men are sheltered at a nearby church. Without transportation or a job to go to many walk the short blocks to our library and spend the week flipping through magazines, checking out things on the internet, sometimes even falling asleep in a chair in front of the fireplace or by the aquarium until we close.
I watch many people walk past them as if they don’t exist. I’ve heard many complaints. “Why do they have to come here?” “Some of them smell so bad.” “They just make me feel uneasy.” “Why can’t they just get a job like the rest of us?”
But there is one woman – one woman – who knows them all by name. She smiles and greets them as they walk through the door. She treats them with they dignity and respect they deserve because they are God’s children.
This woman also works at the library and the men respect her. She knows their hearts are weary. She knows it’s not so easy to just “get a job” when every week you’re in a different city because there are no permanent homeless shelters and they must rely on the graciousness of whatever church opens their doors. Especially in the freezing cold Wisconsin winter months.
She grabs a TV and sets it up in the back allowing them to quietly watch movies, so long as they are appropriate to the patrons that visit our library. She suggests books they might like to read. She offers them coffee. And, this past week, on her day off, she came in specifically for them, offering some food to fill their empty stomachs.
Without judgement, without fanfare, without requiring thanks, she simply loves these homeless men the way God loves us. Never once has she said they were not good enough, responsible enough, clean enough, to be respected and cared for and loved.
“Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
How many of us would share sandwiches to the homeless man waiting for time to pass until he returns to the shelter? How many of us would instead complain that he should just get a job or clean up his life?
“Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
When this becomes our purpose, our choices change. Our habits change. Our hearts change.
And our life starts having incredible meaning.
Meaning God intended our lives to have: overflowing with love for His children.
Get your tickets now!
This fun filled evening of laughter, song, and incredible views, will benefit the future construction of The Avery House, a transitional home for girls who have aged out of Haitian orphanages, and who wish to continue their education or learn business skills.
With little to no support, and very few options to support themselves, young ladies who age out of orphanages all over Haiti find themselves suddenly desperate to find a place to stay and food to eat. Many of these young girls will turn to prostitution or find themselves settling for abusive relationships in exchange for a roof over their heads. A transitional home will provide these girls with safe living conditions as they continue their education and prepare themselves for independence, while living in a family setting that lives out the Word of God.
YOU can help change the life of an orphan by spending just 2-hours enjoying yourself on a sunset cruise on the waters of Geneva Lake!
You can purchase tickets online at https://www.ticketriver.com/event/12473
If you would like to avoid those pesky online service fees, please contact Bridget at 262-949-3939 or email@example.com to purchase tickets direct.
Geneva Lake Sunset Cruise
on the Lady of the Lake
Departing from Riviera Docks, Lake Geneva, at 6:00pm (Boarding to begin at 5:30pm)
Enjoy the 2-hour sunset cruise with singer/songwriter JON TROAST, who will be performing a private concert
for passengers on the boat.
A cash bar will be available.
Limited tickets available.
To purchase tickets online, go to https://www.ticketriver.com/event/12473
Or, contact Bridget at 262-949-3939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
PROCEEDS FROM THIS EVENT WILL GO TOWARD THE AVERY HOUSE, A TRANSITIONAL HOUSING PROJECT BENEFITING THE CHILDREN OF HAITI.
REGISTER TODAY BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:
REGISTER AFTER MAY 23rd WILL NOT INCLUDE EVENT SHIRTS! The deadline to guarantee a t-shirt with registration was May 23rd. (T-shirts will not be available to those who register after the deadline.) There may be a possibility of extra shirts available at the time of the event, but there is no guarantee.
Join us on Friday, JUNE 6th at 6pm for a fun 5K run (or 1.5 mile walk) called AVERY STEP YOU TAKE! That name is just so perfect! We can look at Avery’s short life with us and see clearly how every step she took was towards God, and her ultimate goal of living eternally by His side in Heaven. And I am reminded now, in the wake of her unexpected death, that every step I take can either lead people towards Jesus, or take me down a path of darkness, bitterness and loneliness.
June 6th will be an opportunity for us to run through the streets of the city Avery lived in, and through the peaceful trails of the Paul Lange Arboretum, the Ora Rice Arboretum and the Ben Dibble Trail. These are trails she walked often with us and you’ll definitely feel her spirit with us as we enjoy the beauty of the Lake Comus shore.
Our run will finish in the gym of the Delavan Christian School where we’ll indulge in one of Avery’s FAVORITE treats: ICE CREAM!
REGISTRATION OPENS: 5:15pm at 848 Oak Street, Delavan WI [Delavan Christian School; parking available in adjacent lot]
EVENT BEGINS: 6:00PM
There will also be a Kids Market, where you can purchase homemade items from Avery’s friends who have been busy working away to help support AVERYday Ministries.
** If any children would like to have a table at the Kids Market PLEASE contact me ASAP at 262-949-3939**
Excited? WE SURE ARE!
You can register by copying and pasting this URL in your browser (or by searching on ACTIVE.COM):
REGISTER ONLINE BY MAY 23rd AND RECEIVE A FREE EVENT T-SHIRT! (T-shirts will not be available to those who register after the deadline.)
Note: Children 9 and under are free and do NOT need to register online. However, they will also not receive an event t-shirt. IF YOUR CHILD WOULD LIKE AN EVENT T-SHIRT: you may PREORDER a shirt by sending $10 per shirt ($12 for adult XL) via check or money order, along with your name, contact info and SHIRT SIZE INFORMATION to:
PO Box 214
Delavan, WI 53115
*** BUSINESSES THAT WOULD LIKE TO ADD PRODUCT TO OUR SWAG BAG : please contact us at email@example.com with an explanation of what you would like to include. We encourage actual swag (be creative!) and coupons. We will also include information regarding nonprofit organizations that are in line with the mission of AVERYday Ministries.
****** Yes! You can DONATE items to the event. We will happily and very appreciatively accept donations of bottled water, paper bowls, plastic spoons, napkins and whatever you would think tastes good as ice cream topping! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll coordinate a pick up! Thank you in advance for all your support!
AVERY STEP YOU TAKE matters. It can lead you toward something amazing, or it can lead you closer to something you should probably do without. AVERY STEP YOU TAKE makes a difference. Make AVERY STEP YOU TAKE improve yourself and those around you.
Avery made her theatrical debut when she was about a year old. She played in a scene with Jacey Powers during a production of Little Women. Jacey carried her out on her hip and set her down on the stage if she got squirmy. Avery was completely unfazed by the lights and the audience.
Avery loved theater! She performed in several local productions – never in a lead part, most always in the background, but she did it. And she enjoyed it. When she was older she performed with a talented, faith filled young lady by the name of Riely Rae Mikrut. Riely showed Avery what it was like to love God and love theater at the same time.
Avery continued to impress me with her love of theater.
She had asked to audition for a summer stock production of Alice in Wonderland that was to be performed outdoors near a busy lake. I wasn’t sure how she would handle the heat and bright sun, the sound of cars and motorcycles driving by, not to mention when performing outdoors you have no option but to really SEE your audience, and all of that can be really intimidating.
But she insisted she audition and I relented. And I am so glad I did! She was amazing! Not just in her own parts, but she managed to memorize several parts: birds, flowers, a caterpillar, a mouse. In summer stock, you perform lots of shows over a longer period of time. Up to this point, Avery had done two weekend shows. Six performances at most. But this was like a summer job. Long term. Which meant that some kids would miss a performance or two and Avery was able to slide in and do their parts.
I was so excited for her future in theater.
When she entered 5th Grade in September, 2012, all she talked about was finally being able to perform in the school musical! It was a super big deal to her. Even though her portable school stage was a gazillion years old and nearing the end of its use; even though the school didn’t have a light system worth mentioning; even though the auditorium was nothing more than a converted gym that also doubled as a lunch room – she just couldn’t wait to get up there and perform her heart out with the rest of her classmates.
Little did we know that six weeks later, Avery would be called home to heaven. Never able to perform on that stage.
I must say, the drama kids did an incredible job honoring Avery at their performance of Fiddler on the Roof. There, painted on the backdrop was a butterfly nestled in a tree. Avery was on stage for the entire show.
I believe there is something for everyone in theater. There are set designs for the carpenters and the artists. Props to discover for those who love history. Lights and sound for the tech savvy. Costumes to design and organize, cast bios to write, programs to print, shows to market and tickets to issue. Theater is truly a team sport. Everyone is needed. There is not one position that can go unmanned. Every position is equally important as the next.
God’s army is like that, too. He calls each one of us into serving Him in our own unique ways. But not one of us is more important than the other. God wants us to know that each one of us has an important role in his army. Not one position can go unmanned.
I want to do something for the students at Delavan Christian School. Something for those amazing kids who lost a friend way too soon and way too traumatic. For those incredibly loving kids who performed their heart out knowing that all Avery wanted was to be up on that stage with them. I want to do something amazing for them and in Avery’s memory.
I want to give them a new stage.
I want them to finally have a stage that is big enough and safe enough and high enough to showcase their amazing talent! I want them to look at a new stage and feel excited and happy and good and eager – not sad and lonely because their friend can’t get on stage with them. I want them to see that good things can happen from bad, and that Avery’s memory will be with them forever.
I want them to see this new stage as a tangible example of what a firm foundation in Christ is like. Avery’s love for God is what I stood on when all I wanted to do was to sink into the depths of my sorrow filled pit. Likewise, a new stage will hold them strong and sure and steady.
AVERYday Ministries is close to helping the school achieve this goal, but we have about $2,000 that is still needed. If you feel called to help in this endeavor, you can donate in the following ways:
AVERYday Ministries, PO Box 214, Delavan, WI 53115
Delavan Christian School, 848 Oak Street, Delavan, WI 53115
** Please include the word “STAGE” in the memo portion of your check.
I celebrated Avery’s last birthday ever on October 5, 2012. Except I didn’t know it was her last. Our last. Nineteen days later, on October 24, 2012, Avery died instantly as a result of a single car accident. And it truly was an accident. Speeding was not a factor. Cell phone use or texting was not a factor. Drugs or alcohol was not a factor.
It just happened. In a matter of seconds a precious life was lost, and the world as we knew it became forever changed.
Because it was truly an accident, I had no one to get angry at. In fact, anger never really factored in as an important emotion throughout the minutes, hours, days and months since the accident. Sure, I’ve been tempted a time or two – but really, what good does it do?
But something that has been an absolutely INCREDIBLE factor throughout this past year is the JOY, KINDNESS and COMPASSION showered on my family and I. Family and friends came to the rescue, and also complete strangers. Many had heard our story and just wanted to lighten our load in whatever small way they could. They did.
Avery was known for her acts of kindness. She was always giving, always helping. One of the stories that has really taken off in the community is when Avery made a batch of Pink Lemonade Cookies for a list of friends and neighbors. I still have no idea why she made those cookies that day. I don’t even know if they tasted good. (Believe it or not, I didn’t make the List of Recipients.) But I did chauffer her around to drop off her random gifts. Those cookies were just the tip of the iceberg. She was always doing nice things for others.
She left positive notes scribbled in sidewalk chalk, paid for an elderly man’s breakfast, made breakfast in bed on mornings that weren’t Mother’s Day. After her death, one of her teacher’s approached me to tell me about the day Avery stuck post-it notes around the girls’ bathroom: You are beautiful. God loves you. Smile.
I often wondered how her simple acts of kindness and compassion warmed the hearts of others.
As I thought about her upcoming birthday – the first birthday without – I knew I wanted to celebrate and honor Avery’s life. She was a girl with a smile on her face and a dance in her step! We needed to do something BIG! And so we have planned a concert in which singer/songwriter Jon Troast will perform. Avery was never able to see Jon perform before her passing, but I know his music is exactly the spirit of who she was, and continues to be. Opening for Jon will be local singer Riely Rae Mikrut. Her heavenly voice captures the heavens Avery currently resides. We want it to be a BIG celebration – so make sure you order your tickets ASAP! *for more information contact email@example.com
I get so excited thinking about her birthday because it’s going to be awesome! But then I remembered what comes next. Nineteen days later. And my heart grows heavy. All I keep thinking about is these kids — all these young kids who never should have had to deal with death — friends and classmates and teammates and kids from camp and kids from church and kids who played volleyball on the opposing team — and I just cannot throw a huge, fun party and leave them to walk alone into what comes next. I cannot bear to watch them walk out into sorrow.
I want them to know joy. And if there’s one thing I have learned in the last year it’s that joy CAN exist amongst sorrow! I know it, because you all showered us with it! And I felt strong hugs and ate hearty meals and read touching books and wore bracelets of strength. And I received encouraging words and was pointed to the sky where the clouds opened and the sun sang like a million angels praising Jesus. And that joy meant everything to me. That joy gave me another dose of holding on.
And if there’s one thing I learned from Avery it’s that it doesn’t take much to make a HUGE, POSITIVE difference in the world!
So it only seemed fitting what to do with The 19 Days: we would share the joy. We would BE the joy. We would BE the kindness! We would BE the compassion that someone else desperately needs and equally deserves, even if we don’t know their story.
And so, we challenge you to the greatest kindness and compassion campaign you’ve ever been a part of. One random act of kindness, every day, for 19 days. Post it, share it, take a photo and tag it using the hashtag #the19days. Let your neighbors know, your friends know, your Twitter feed and your Facebook know, that for #the19days change is coming. We are that change.
The best part about #the19days? There are no boundaries. You can be in Wisconsin, or Idaho or Australia or Africa. There are no age limits. You can be old or young or somewhere in between. You can do things for young people or for old people or for everyone in between. You can teach others how to perform random acts of kindness. There are no rules. Well, except one: be kind. But the possibilities are endless! Leave a note, bake some cookies, pay a mortgage, give a vacation!
Invite your friends. The more, the merrier.
Like us on Facebook at The 19 Days.