Sharing hope from Haiti to St. Charles

Haitian adoptee graduates from St. Charles West and Lindenwood University and dedicates his life to helping others

By Brett Auten

Estevenson Coleman was given the opportunity of a lifetime.  

Born in Haiti, he and his sister were put in an orphanage when his parents passed away. Coleman was just nine years old at the time.

Around the age of 15, he was adopted by George and Sally Coleman and soon after enrolled into St. Charles West High School. Not only was Coleman a stranger in a strange land, but he had not been to school in four years and had only a third grade education.

“I had to take my homework to the French teacher to help translate it,” Coleman said. “I was definitely scared and overwhelmed but I realized I couldn’t let the people back home or my parents down. Once I realized that, I used it as motivation.”

Coleman would go on to not only graduate but have a successful prep soccer career (first team all-state) and went on to play at St. Charles Community College. Coleman earned his bachelor’s degree in nonprofit administration from Lindenwood University.

Prior to adoption, the Colemans sponsored Estevenson. That initial encounter, though distant, sent reverberations.

“I have seen the positive impact not only on me but on my friends who I lived with,” Coleman said. “A sponsorship means they will be given a chance to go to school, eat a healthy meal and have some stability both mentally and physically. I don’t have the words to describe what that means.”

Volunteering has been a huge part of Coleman’s life. He interned for Ambassadors Football, he taught kids internet safety and the dangers of bullying through his work with the Megan Meier Foundation, and he volunteered for Ronald McDonald House Charities as a translator for a Haitian family.

Coleman is focused on giving back, making a difference, and leaving a footprint and he found the perfect local nonprofit to help him do so, the Lake St. Louis-based Brace for IMPACT 46.

Former St. Louis Cardinal and World Series Champion Kyle McClellan started Brace for IMPACT 46 in 2014 after he and his wife, Bridget, took a life-changing mission trip to Haiti, along with teammate Adam Wainwright and his wife Jenny. They went on the trip planning to help those in need, but were not braced for the imprint it would have on their lives.

At Brace for IMPACT 46, from Haiti to North St. Louis the goal is to demonstrate how giving back can enrich your life every bit as much as those you serve. Through partnerships and trips to Haiti, it supports the IDADEE Children’s Home and sustain community development in the area. In St. Louis, through a partnership with Tabernacle Community Development Corporation, the organization has purchased and renovated homes in the North St. Louis area and employ local contractors to conduct the work. It then provides these homes for families in need, and in turn they pay rent, attend quarterly seminars that focus on family needs and they volunteer in the community two-to-four hours per month.

Coleman has been involved with Brace for IMPACT 46 for several years, and became a full-time program manager in early 2018. His dream for Brace for IMPACT 46 is to continue to see growth in the communities it serves and he is proud to have helped over 40 children receive shelter, food, clothing, education and more, and loves to see the influence the organization has made for tens of thousands of people.

“I am fortunate enough to be here and I want to speak on (Haitians) behalf,” he said. “I hope one day we won’t have to ask for help and one of these children will go on to change the dynamic in Haiti.”

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CUTLINE: Submitted photo St. Charles West and Lindenwood University graduate Estevenson Coleman is shown here on a trip to Haiti as member of Brace for IMPACT 46, a non-profit organization that aims to positively IMPACT children and families in Haiti and North St. Louis.