When Helen Waterson passed away at the end of 2016, she made sure that her and her late husband’s love and devotion for ICC and Grace Children’s Hospital would be carried on. Alongside their children, she left part of her will to ICC, showing the priority ICC has had in their lives since the ‘60s. And all of her children agreed: this is how it should be.
“Haiti and God’s presence there has shaped my entire family’s life,” says their Jon Waterson, also a long-time supporter. He said that their gift showed not only the importance it had in their life, but also how they raised their kids to know how important it was. “It has made them better people, and therefore made us better people,” Jon said.
Jon described how he grew up in a home decorated with Haitian paintings and heard stories of his parents’ travels. At meal times his parents always encouraged him to finish his plate not by using the age-old argument that there are children going hungry in Africa, but that there are children in Haiti with no food. And because he knew they spoke from experience, it made it all the more real. “I don’t remember a time in my life when ICC and the children of Haiti were not a part of our lives,” he said.
Jon emphasized that although the desperation and suffering of Haiti was well-known to him and his siblings, Haiti was never defined by it.
“Haiti in my family has always been a place of beauty; the people are its beauty.”
Jon got to experience Haiti three separate times, each time with his father Al, who was one of ICC’s founding board members. Growing up, he always heard his father tell stories about how beautiful it was to see the children at the hospital singing, but he never quite understood why his parents always said they came back blessed from these children. That is, until he got to experience it for himself:
“I was like a human tree stump with all the kids crawling on me. The kids were like branches. On my arms, wrapped around my legs… I will always remember the unbridled affection they had for visitors. Their joy became my joy. And it wasn’t until then that I realized what it’s like to be blessed by them. They have grown up with the reality of extreme poverty, and they are the most hopeful people I’ve ever met.”
When he spoke with his father about it later, Al said, “This is what God can do. God can bring joy even to these circumstances.”
And it was not only their children that Helen and Al passed on these lessons to: all of their seven grandchildren can tell you all about Grace Children’s Hospital.
After the earthquake in 2010, Jon’s seven-year-old son came to him and asked what he could do to help. “In my family, it’s never a question of if we will help, it’s always how,” Jon said. He went on to explain that his son orchestrated a family-wide garage sale and delegated all the tasks. He was able to send $600 to ICC from it. “He had never been to Haiti,” Jon said, “but already he knew the importance of what it means to help others.”
Al and Helen Waterson gave their time and money, and passed on their wisdom to their families and others. Both of them will sorely be missed, but we know that their memories and dreams will live on with ICC, and they won’t soon be forgotten.
Click here to make a gift in their memory.