TRAVERSE CITY — Answer: Grace Community Birth Center, a Traverse City nonprofit working to construct a birth center in Grand Bassin, Haiti.
Question: What is one of the organizations to benefit from James Holzhauer's impressive run on "Jeopardy!"
Holzhauer, who won 32 straight times on the long-running trivia game show, earned a staggering $2,464,216 before his run ended in an episode that aired on Monday. Holzhauer is the second-highest winner in "Jeopardy!" regular play, finishing just behind Ken Jennings, who needed 75 episodes in 2004 to accumulate $2,522,700.
Even before his impressive run came to an end, "Jeopardy James" used some of his winnings to make a $10,000 donation to the Grace Community Birth Center, a charity chaired by Traverse City certified professional midwife Kathi Mulder that is working to construct a facility in Haiti under project leader Ninotte Lubin. The donation came about thanks to a relationship between James Holzhauer's wife, Melissa, and Tara Mulder, Kathi's daughter and a member of the GCBC advisory board.
"We have all been deeply moved by Melissa and James’ generosity," Kathi Mulder said in an email during a trip to Haiti. "Their gift is critical to the construction of the birth center and the ongoing operation of the Grace Community Birth Center’s programs.
"As importantly, James’ celebrity brings valuable awareness to many more people of the work Ninotte Lubin is doing with the women and children of Haiti. Her leadership and passion is an inspiration."
Tara and Kathi Mulder met Lubin when she was a midwife in training during a trip to Haiti in 2011, a year after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the island. Kathi Mulder helped Lubin receive her certification in 2015.
Melissa (Sassin) Holzhauer and Tara Mulder met at graduate school at Brown University where they were both studying the Classics (Ancient Greek and Roman studies). Melissa Holzhauer is helping donate some of her husband's "Jeopardy!" winnings with a focus on children, education and literacy and the Birth Center checks off a lot of those boxes.
"They have donated to a number of organizations, mostly in Las Vegas, where they live," Tara Mulder said. "But due to Melissa's personal connection, they decided to donate to the Grace Community Birth Center as well. Their decision was to use his celebrity to draw people's attention to it."
Tara Mulder said she enjoyed watching the professional sports gambler Holzhauer play the television game show "like it was his job." She said it was riveting right up to the final episode.
"I was just watching on the edge of my seat every night," she said. "I cried (the night he lost), not really sad tears, but I was proud he made it so far and that he's doing so much good with the money he won."
Throughout her three-year professorship at Vassar College, Melissa Holzhauer visited Tara Mulder. At one point Kathi Mulder and Lubin happened to be visiting at the same time.
The Mulders and Melissa Holzhauer continue to be impressed with the work Lubin is doing in her native country.
"The thing that makes this project so great is that Ninotte is a local woman solving a local problem using local solutions," said Tara Mulder, who will begin a job as a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada in the fall.
The Grace Community Birth Center is a 3-acre property in Grand Bassin, Haiti that houses an open-air building where Lubin performs prenatal and postpartum visits as well as sex education classes for teens and adults. Lubin also teaches classes to other midwives and health care providers in Haiti on neo-natal resuscitation and domestic violence.
Tara Mulder's father, Craig, is now with wife Kathi Mulder in Haiti working with the Building Goodness Foundation on engineering plans for an actual birth center. Current project estimates are $150,000 for the facility.
"Our goal is to get up and functioning as quickly as possible with the resources that we have," Tara Mulder said.
She said a birthing center is sorely needed in the country.
"Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western hemisphere. It also has the highest birth rate. Women are having a lot of babies and a lot of them are dying in childbirth. It's an acute issue right now," she said.
The Traverse City charity began raising money for the Grace Community Birth Center in 2016. Traverse City groups that have supported the project include The Presbyterian Church of Traverse City, Women's Fellowship of the First Congregational Church, Rotary Club of Traverse City, David P. Sheetz Foundation and Pierce Family Foundation.
"We have had about 120 different organizations and individual donors," Tara Mulder said.
A fourth annual fundraiser will be held this fall at The Grand Traverse Circuit with a presentation by Lubin. There will also be Haitian music, art and food. More information on the charity is available at www.gracebirthcenter.org.