FREDERICKTOWN — A pizza shop owner with strong ties to an orphanage in western Kenya, the Heroes of Christ Orphanage Mission in the village of Maili Saba, is hosting a benefit dinner Thursday night. He seeks to raise funds for the orphanage and the nearly 50 children it serves.
Pizza Dock owner Mike Amheiser, who first started making trips to Kenya nearly 20 years ago, will invite good friend and historical character actor Jim Stoner to Waterford United Methodist Church as the evening’s featured entertainment.
Amheiser said he is delighted to have Stoner as “Coach Hayes” available to rev up the dinner crowd. He offered that nearly all proceeds from the fundraiser — with those attending asked to contribute no set amount — will benefit Heroes of Christ Orphanage Mission, a property he purchased and then gave to others for its intended purpose. The orphanage is managed by a Kenyan friend of Amheiser, Charles Masinde, who is aided by his wife and a few others who run the orphanage and its Christian mission of spreading God’s word. The grounds consist of two long, brick buildings. Amheiser said he communicates with Masinde weekly, and sometimes several times each week since the price of international calls has decreased over time.
Donors help Amheiser raise funds each month to send to Maili Saba, and a recent local donation of four acres allows the orphanage staff to grow their own vegetables.
Amheiser first visited Kenya for three months in 1999, following outreach from a pastor he knew. He has made three trips since then, two lasting a month. He has been associated with Heroes of Christ Orphanage and Mission since 2005, and in addition, he delivers financial help involving deliveries of food to villagers “in the bush” of northern Kenya.
Amheiser said, at first, he rented property for the orphanage. About five years ago, he purchased property to give it a permanent home. He is also part of the Mission to Pokot — the Pokot being a tribe receiving assistance in northwest Kenya.
Amheiser said his own personal calling of faith involved helping those in greatest need in a far-away land, many of them children who were living near trash dump-offs and rescued by the orphanage. Their parents were either dead or unable to take care of the children, he said. Many were likely incapacitated by sickness and disease, like malaria. The orphanage started out with 11 children and has grown steadily since, he said.
“During my life, I always wanted to go to Africa,” Amheiser said. “All I needed was an opportunity and one helping others.”
Amheisier said is he most proud of the children he has helped attend public school. Many have succeeded by graduating and finding good work. One student did well enough to gain a scholarship from the Equity Bank of Kenya that took him through four years of high school, and then four years of college.
“He also got to travel to Nairobe and shake the hand of the president of Kenya,” Amheiser said proudly.
A buffalo meat dinner will be served, along with pizza, creating an evening of good food and friendship with a worthy cause at its core, Amheiser said.
The meal will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at Waterford United Methodist Church and be followed at 6:30 p.m. by the living history performance from Stoner.
Waterford United Methodist Church is located at 20599 Waterford Road in Fredericktown.