Saving Saipan: Rose Smith and Empty Vessel Ministry


Editor’s Note: Saipan Tribune’s latest series features everyday heroes who are taking part in recovery efforts and assisting those in need after Typhoon Soudelor devastated Saipan. We end this series with the story of Rose Smith and her work with the Empty Vessel Ministry. 

Rose Smith, 42, founded Empty Vessel Ministry, a faith-based organization, over a decade ago, with the focus of assisting orphans in Smith’s homes country of Kenya. However, since moving to Saipan in 2006, Smith has since expanded the ministry to include assisting families in need in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Rose Smith, founder of Empty Vessel Ministry, poses for a photo with volunteers while distributing relief supplies. (Contributed Photo)

Rose Smith, founder of Empty Vessel Ministry, poses for a photo with volunteers while distributing relief supplies. (Contributed Photo)

Her passionate humanitarian work has evolved into an islandwide movement originating from EVM’s outreach store in Gualo Rai. 

“As an organization our commitment is to help families in need and so our focus in the immediate aftermath of the storm was to focus on those effected,” she told Saipan Tribune. “It only took a few hours for Soudelor to pass through but families will be affected for months so it’s important not to lose that focus.” 

Although some of the charity’s own volunteers fell victim to the typhoon, they still continue to contribute to relief efforts, Smith said. 

“The work simply could not be done without all of the volunteers and we are so grateful to work with them,” she added.

Countless volunteers under Smith’s organization have distributed clothing, medical supplies, tents, shoes, food, water, and household items. Empty Vessel recently joined forces with organizations such as the American Red Cross, and in doing so, has distributed a total of 12,000 articles of clothing to typhoon survivors.

“The need was so great there was initial concern that our shelves would soon be empty, but donations started coming in and we have a lot of clothes and shoes and other accessories to help families,” Smith said.  “…There are still many needs that only friends and neighbors can fill.  I know that many residents have been generous in helping their neighbors.”

Smith recounted hearing a story from a survivor that she will never forget: “A mother that I know, her house was destroyed and they are living with friends but the son was traumatized by the storm because they thought they wouldn’t make it when the typhoon ripped off their roof. Now, when it rains, the boy becomes worried, asking his mother if they are safe.”

Smith said that it is part of the foundations’ commitment to help in times of need. 

“The assistance we can provide comes from the donations of so many in our community and we want to say thank you so much for your generosity,” she added.

Thomas Manglona II | Correspondent

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