Charity Spotlight: United Fund for Belgium

United Fund Belgium picture

Through the meticulous process of farming, people who were once socially isolated due to a psychiatric illness or previous incarceration are now learning skills to cultivate farm land and their life with hope for a better future.

De Kromme Boom (The Crooked Tree), a United Fund for Belgium funded charitable program, provides structured residential programs that focus on education, employment training and relationship counseling in order to help clients reintegrate successfully into mainstream society.

The MDRT Foundation awarded a $2,000 grant to The United Fund for Belgium—a nonprofit organization that supports charitable programs throughout Belgium—to fund De Kromme Boom’s agricultural program. This grant was sponsored by James McEvoy, CLU, AEP, a 20-year MDRT member and Gold Knight from Kortenberg, Belgium.

"De Kromme Boom has helped assimilate and reintegrate many less fortunate people into society," McEvoy explained. "It allows people to learn trades, be productive and grow confidence in a caring and controlled setting."

The MDRT Foundation grant will be used to fund the cost of replacing old farming equipment for De Kromme Boom’s agricultural program. The agricultural program provides residents with the necessary training to raise livestock, grow fruit and vegetables, and make wine and honey — all of the produce is sold at an on-site store and residents also learn the basics of operating a small business.

All of the residents register for the two-year program on a voluntary basis. Many of the residents have been marginalized from mainstream society for numerous years, which often leads to feelings of extreme alienation. DKB's programs provide a safe environment for residents to learn how to function outside of an institution so that they can master the life skills needed to become contributing members of their community.