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Cleveland man hopes to lend a hand in Haiti
Many local churches choose to send money first before manpower
0119jeff mumpower
Jeff Mumpower


Listen as Jeff Mumpower of Cleveland talks from the Dominican Republic about plans to enter Haiti this week as part of a relief effort.

Like others, Jeff Mumpower was shocked to see the pictures of a ruined Haiti.

But the Cleveland man wasn’t content to stay at home and just go about his job as turf maintenance specialist for Hall County Parks & Leisure Services’ Allen Creek Soccer Complex.

"I wanted to help in every way that I could. So, when the opportunity came available to help, I just prayed on it and God said, ‘Go ahead and do it. Go down there and do what you can,’" Mumpower said.

Speaking Monday from a hotel room in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor on the Caribbean island, Mumpower said he is hoping to enter Haiti on Wednesday when another relief group including doctors is set to arrive.

Mumpower first considered going to Haiti with his church, The Bridge Church in Cleveland, but discovered the church isn’t planning to go there until later in the year.

His neighbor, Ed Wall, a dentist, came across Then Prove It, an Ellijay-based ministry with more immediate plans.

"They had been to Haiti the past three years and ... put a team together at the last minute, then it came down to Sunday," Mumpower said.

He was slowed from entering the country when Wall was stricken with a stomach bug.

"The rest of our group went on in," Mumpower said.

"They texted us earlier. It took five hours for them to get to the (Haitian) border and they had 28 doctors. ... The supplies (with them) are going as fast as they can (distribute) them," he said.

He said the group has about 30 police officers around them providing security.

While waiting for the relief group to arrive, Mumpower is bracing for the experience ahead.

"I know it’s going to be bad, but I don’t think you can ever be completely ready," he said. "I guess I’m ready as I can be, and we’ll do whatever we can to help for the time that we’re there."

His wife, Liz Mumpower, speaking from the couple’s home in Cleveland, talked about the past few days leading to his departure.

"They all took huge suitcases full of medical supplies and Tylenol, anything they could their hands on in 24 hours," she said.

Planning for the trip started on Friday, with the group leaving Sunday morning.

"I’m very, very proud of him," Liz Mumpower said of her husband. "It takes an unbelievable person to be able to do something like this, to go in there and see the things he’s going to see. I don’t know that I could do it."

She said he "has been so determined" in his efforts.

"We went over to the Walmart and we must have bought every tarp we could get our hands on," Liz said. "He took big, huge bags of animal crackers and cereal for the kids. He was looking for toys he could find, anything that he could get in his suitcase.

"He said, ‘I can’t save everybody, but if I could even make one difference, if one of these tarps can make a home for one person, then I’ve done what it is I want to go do."

The group plans to return Sunday evening.

Other area church leaders said Monday they are taking a wait-and-see approach on sending relief workers while continuing to raise money.

"We find that in this initial stage of the disaster that money can be turned into whatever is needed rather than sending clothes, tarps or water," said Steve Winter, executive pastor of Gainesville First United Methodist Church.

A multinational relief effort involving major disaster-relief agencies is under way in Haiti, where the death toll could reach 200,000.

"What we find out in the United Methodist Church is our best effort is to let that (initial work) get sorted out, to find out where we actually are needed," Winter said.

"And then if we can send medical or building volunteers, we can do that in a better fashion and stay out of the way."

That hasn’t stopped some church members anxious to lend a hand, however.

"I was approached by several people (Sunday) at worship who said, ‘I want to go,’ " Winter said. "And we said, ‘Hang in there.’ The time for that will come.’"