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Meet the Cluvers: The 2012 Forsyth Family Fest parade grand marshals

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chad and Sherry Cluver were college sweethearts who moved to the area as newlyweds in the mid-1990s during a time when many teachers and educators served as grand marshals of the Forsyth Family Fest parade.

Now Maroa-Forsyth High School teachers themselves – Chad a math teacher and basketball coach, and Sherry a social science teacher — the two join that list of educator honorees. However, their selection was based on an underlying reason that has brought cheers and tears from observers as the couple experienced an adoption journey that took sweeping twists and turns.

In 2007, moving from Maroa to a larger home on Ruehl Street in Forsyth seemed like a natural progression for the 30-something couple with a young son and daughter. Then a dramatic turn of events happened when, during summer 2008, the couple decided to adopt a Haitian child whom Sherry’s mother had met on a mission trip to that county.

What followed was a spiral of dashed hopes as they were matched and bonded with two other Haitian children, only to have to step aside when issues arose with the children’s birth families. The extreme poverty of the country sparked the Cluvers’ greater desire to help after the earthquake disaster that befell Haiti. The adoption was a success in January 2011 when, as Sherry relates, two Haitian children named Jameson and Anna “came home to us.”

Anna joins the couple’s first child, Hunter as a sixth-grade student at Maroa-Forsyth Middle School, and Jameson is in the third grade at Maroa-Forsyth Grade School with the couple’s daughter, Baylor. The four children will ride in the parade as a family with their parents as grand marshals.

“We haven’t done anything that’s extraordinary,” Sherry Cluver said. Others might disagree, knowing that the couple remains closely involved with the Haitian Families First, a nonprofit group that helps struggling Haitian parents who want to keep their children. To date they have personally raised $2,000 for the cause through fundraising events they plan to continue. The website www. HaitianFamiliesFirst.org tells more about the organization.

This year’s parade theme is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Yet Sherry Cluver says she knows that 1,700 miles away in the Port-au-Prince time zone, “…there are so many families without services and with worries to just keep their families together.” In the spirit of family celebrations during the Forsyth Family Fest, she suggests a visit to the Haitian Families First website. And as a spinoff to the fest’s theme, she offers her own: “Don’t worry. We’re going to try to help.”

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