Olivet blesses Puerto Rico with generators

A student, a professor and an alumna lead Orpheus Choir in generous response.

March 23, 2018 Uncategorized

“When I saw the industrial equipment catalog in Alex Freytes’ hand, I asked him about it,” says Dr. Jeff Bell, music professor and director of Orpheus Choir at Olivet Nazarene University. “When he told me why he had it, I told him that others would want to help him.” 

Alexander Freytes is a native of Puerto Rico, a sophomore biology major and a member of Orpheus Choir at Olivet. Just a few weeks before his conversation with Dr. Bell, Alex had watched from the U.S. as Hurricane Maria devastated his Caribbean island home. This hurricane is Puerto Rico’s worst natural disaster on record. 

Alex’s desire was to buy and send a generator to his family. Dr. Bell encouraged him to let his Orpheus Choir family help. 

During rehearsal for the Orpheus Choir reunion concert at Olivet’s Homecoming 2017 — and with Alex’s permission — Dr. Bell invited the group to help. “I explained the project, but I didn’t give Alex’s name,” he says. “We had choir members there from the past six decades.” 

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First to step forward and volunteer her help was Beth (Swartz) Baltazar ’82. “When I heard there was someone in Orpheus whose family was personally affected by Hurricane Maria, I felt compelled to help,” she says. “I wanted to motivate others to step in and help, too. Orpheus was the most important part of my life when I was an Olivet student.” 

Bart Garvin ’90, an Orpheus alumnus, offered help from Garvin Industries, his family company. Another said, “Let’s buy more than one generator!” Others gave cash and wrote checks right there to cover generators and shipping costs. More contributed online after they returned home. The generators were purchased from Amperage Electrical Supply in Roselle, Illinois, and the company sold the generators at their cost. 

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Just before Christmas, seven generators — designated for seven recipients — arrived in Puerto Rico. Thanks to the generosity of Orpheus Choir alumni. 

Alex and his father, José, were at the shipping office to pick them up. “Delivering them was like being Santa Claus,” Alex says. The generators were larger and much more powerful than what they had hoped for. Families, schools and churches are now benefiting from unexpected blessings. 

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According to the Associated Press (as reported by NBC News on March 1, 2018), 15 percent of the island is still without electricity. Blackouts continue to occur. 

“Orpheus Choir is still a family, and we are family to one another,” Beth says. “We take so many things for granted in the U.S. I’m so grateful for the way God used us to bless Puerto Rico.” 

To learn more about Orpheus Choir and Olivet’s School of Music, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.


Photos submitted by Alexander Freytes

Published: 3/23/18

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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