Featured Stories

How JustServe Became the Answer to Prayers in Haiti

Latter-day Saints and neighbors in San Bernardino, California, send two tons of school supplies, clothing and games

This story appears here courtesy of It is not for use by other media.

By Mary Richards, Church News

When boxes of school supplies arrived in May at the New Kiskeya Christian School in Jean-Rabel, Haiti, the children unpacked books, building blocks, notebooks, microscopes, models of the human skeleton and solar system and more. 

They were excited and in awe — and so were the teachers. The school’s superintendent, James Ulysse, said he knew his students would benefit from the materials, but he didn’t realize the impact it would have on the teachers.

Students at New Kiskeya Christian School in Haiti look at a 3D model of the solar system that came in a shipment from San Bernardino, California, as part of a JustServe project. Photo courtesy of James Ulysse, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

“For example, our Spanish teacher saw the solar system in our office and was shocked to see that the planets were arranged horizontally,” he wrote. “Since he had only learned by hearing or through lower quality textbooks, he always assumed the planets were arranged vertically.”

That teacher has a degree in education and a law degree, but he had never been properly taught the concepts of the planets’ orbits and the rotation of the earth.

“It’s a great reminder to never take for granted the blessing of receiving an education in a developed country,” Ulysse said.

The school supplies were gathered by members of 10 stakes and their neighbors in San Bernardino, California, as part of a JustServe project. JustServe is a website and app that lists service needs and connects organizations with volunteers.

This project all started to come together in October 2021, when LaVaun Hulterstrom, a JustServe specialist for the San Bernardino area, met Gordon and Cheelove Basham.

LaVaun Hulterstrom, center, with Cheelove and Gordon Basham, as they loaded up a truck full of donations to send to a school in Haiti on March 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of LaVaun Hulterstrom, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Cheelove Basham is from Haiti and was hoping to send supplies to her home country. As Hulterstrom talked to the Bashams, she learned about the needs at New Kiskeya Christian School.

“I immediately got in touch with [Ulysse], and he responded that — he was funny about it — he thought it was a scam,” Hulterstrom laughed. “He said, ‘Why is someone calling me from the U.S.?’”

She invited him to join a virtual meeting in January with the stakes in the area, and he explained the school’s needs to the group. Hulterstrom and the stake JustServe specialists then started to get the word out through JustServe that they wanted to collect books, puzzles, games, clothing and supplies to send. The response was great and items started to pour in, adding up to about two tons.

“We were getting so much support from this, with the collection of books and so on, that I was almost worried we wouldn’t have room to ship it all,” Hulterstrom said.

Missionaries from the California San Bernardino Mission helped sort the books in March. The Bashams helped show them how to pack the supplies for optimal shipping. Hulterstrom was worried about shipping costs, but another stake had the funds set aside for a service project, and they used that to help pay for the shipping. 

After the first batch of supplies got to the school in May, Ulysse shared with Hulterstrom something he had not told her before. He said he had been praying for help for his school and even wrote down everything he needed on a whiteboard. He and the other administrators held a worship service privately every day over the summer as they hoped to help their school.

Students at New Kiskeya Christian School in Haiti look at a microscope that came in a shipment from San Bernardino, California, as part of a JustServe project. Photo courtesy of James Ulysse, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Then he had a dream, and looking back at it after the fact, he knew it was pointing him toward getting to know Hulterstrom and accepting the help from JustServe.

“I moved forward without any doubts with JustServe, knowing God was involved no matter what differences we have,” he said. “God went on to supply a majority of the items in my prayer list and we know He will continue to provide.” 

Hulterstrom said those prayers in Haiti came exactly at the time that she was meeting the Bashams in California, who then led her to finding out about the school. 

“All these little things that came together — to me, it wasn’t a coincidence,” she said.

The first shipment arrived in May. More school supplies, puzzles, games and clothing should arrive soon.

As Ulysse wrote on the school’s Facebook page, “Many more items are on their way and we just can’t wait! Thank you to LaVaun and JustServe for helping give our students these educational experiences that they would not otherwise have.”

Copyright 2022 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.