TrueNorth Church member works to help Haitian orphans

Cammie Hayes, as a member of TrueNorth Church, is part of a team working to help provide relief for orphans in Haiti, and as an employee of the City of Aiken, she pursues a mission of helping ensure accountability and integrity in the municipal government.

"We work with payroll and the general ledger, and that includes bank reconciliation and journal entries," she said, referring to herself and her fellow employees in accounting.

"I review a lot of their work, and then I also work directly with the finance director, Kim Abney. I work directly with her on any special projects that she has."

The annual routine includes an audit conducted by a certified public accountant. Preparing Aiken's comprehensive annual financial report is also part of the yearly plan.

Hayes, a native of Lexington, has been a part of Aiken's municipal team since April 2009, and a TrueNorth member for "close to eight years," she recalled. Also a member is her husband, Kevin, known to some through his service in the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

The Hayes' Haitian connection is relatively new. A trip to Haiti in July was "really a life-changing experience," as the lady of the house described it.

She recalled "things that we probably take for granted that they don't have, and they still continue life without the technology and all those things that we have."

Hayes and several of her church neighbors are now organizing a March 16 run/walk, on the Greeneway, to raise money for Alex's House, a Haitian orphanage that was established in response to the disastrous earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010. Some accounts reported the loss of more than 300,000 lives.

The Christian-run orphanage's main facility is in Port-au-Prince, the capital city, and a new one is taking shape in Kalico, a coastal town. The Port-au-Prince site is overcrowded, with 26 kids as the current population.

The facility (explored at caught the attention of some of her TrueNorth home-group member once Hayes returned from her trip and showed a video.

"The group just kind of ... wanted to do something to help Alex's House continue and to further the vision of rescuing the children off the street.

They're going to need money to be able to purchase more land ... That's how the run kind of came to life."

Proceeds from the 5-kilometer event, she noted, will go directly to the orphanage.

"She really has a heart for missions. She plans to go back to Haiti this year," said Rachel Dawkins, one of the Hayes' home-group members from TrueNorth.

"It's something that she was scared to death to do, in the first place. It was completely out of her comfort zone, and she said she felt God calling her and signed up to go," Dawkins recalled.

"It just blew her away, just seeing how people live. We don't realize how blessed we are in the United States until we go to a Third World country."

The namesake of Alex's house, the late Alex Alincy, died in the earthquake. He "basically is the one that kind of started with the vision to rescue the orphans off the streets of Haiti," Hayes recalled.

"He was teaching a children's Bible study and wasn't able to get out of the building."

The road to Haiti and North Augusta, for Hayes, was by way of USC Aiken, where she earned an undergraduate degree in business administration.

She also attended USC, in Columbia, for a master's degree in accountancy, and along the way, she met her future husband, also a Lexington native.

Future employees would include Elliot Davis, in Augusta, from 2006 to 2009.

Among her current roles in North Augusta, Hayes is the volunteer coordinator for Journey Land, TrueNorth's program for kids up through kindergarten age - "where they go on Sundays while their parents go to the main service."

Hayes' report from Haiti had a definite impact on some of TrueNorth's adults, Dawkins said. "It was just amazing, and she came back changed, and she's ready to go back again at the end of April."