Daily Archives: January 14, 2010

Mercy Corps: Offers Volunteers Creative Fundraising Options

I have been impressed with Mercy Corps’ humanitarian first-responder work over the years — especially their relief efforts in Hurricane Katrina in the US, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, and the Sichuan earthquake in China. I was not surprised to see that they quickly entered the fray to help in Haiti.

Mercy Corps is a charity with a solid 30 year history of alleviating suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities and a 4 star efficiency from Charity Navigator.

What struck me as creative was that on January 13th Mercy Corp provided its volunteers with creative online fundraising tools to assist in their life saving efforts in Haiti. Here is a quote from their site:

You can make an immediate difference for Haiti’s families. We’re relying on the creative fundraising of generous individuals and groups of all ages to raise money for our ongoing relief efforts for survivors of Haiti’s recent earthquake…And our online fundraising tools let you turn any occasion into a Mercy Corps fundraiser.

We’ve made it easy for you to raise money to help families affected by this tragic disaster and spread the word about your efforts online. You can customize your personal fundraising page by posting photos, telling people about your event and tracking your fundraising goals.

Source: Mercy Corps Fundraising Page

I was also struck by the immediacy that Americans took to creating their own Fundraising Pages. This did a lot in to assuage my fear that the word would sit idly by as millions of Haitians suffered (see my last blog entry).

At the time of this posting at 3pm on January 14th, I have counted over 20 pages and the stories contained in each page were no less touching. Here is a list of the Top 5 Fundraisers with their reasons for taking action together with supporters’ commentary — as an example of the outpouring of generosity by the average American for the people of Haiti:

JeremyBarnicle’s Haiti Earthquake Response Fundraiser
Jeremy Barnicle is a seasoned 5 year veteran of Mercy Corps and its communications director, who has served in the relief efforts of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, humanitarian missions in Darfur and rebuilding war-torn Uganda and Somalia to name a few together with the current response in Haiti.

His fundraiser seems to be a natural extension of his relief work with Mercy Corps in Haiti.

Commentary:

The college age daughter of our good friend was in Saint Rock Haiti last week on a medical mission trip with the Saint Rock Haiti Foundation. I hope this helps a bit. -Malissa Kenney

Thank you for doing this Jeremy. I’ve been to Haiti twice. It was a tragic, sad place even before the earthquake. I cant imagine what it’s like there now. – Yale Popowich

To all my friends in Haiti, and the great work of Mercy Corps. – Zachary Krahmer

Thanks for all the great work that you do Jeremy. – Jayan Kalathil

Thanks for doing this Jeremy. Prayers to all in Haiti. – Orsolya Herbein

This is so good, Jeremy. – Elizabeth Bruckel

Appreciate that you are doing the work you do! – Spitzi Barnicle


Yale School of Management’s Haiti Response Fundraiser
Mercy Corps is led by CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, a 1982 graduate of the school and a member of the Yale SOM Board of Advisors and the Yale Corporation. Yale SOM’s Dean, Sharon Oster, created the fundraising page (started with $1,000 of her own money) in support of Mercy Corps’ proven history of helping disaster victims worldwide. The solidarity and generosity of support amongst members of the Yale Community for Haiti has been truly remarkable and heartwarming.

Commentary:

There are always hopes and helps. – Yong Wang

Sending thoughts and prayers. – Amy Wrzesniewski

Dante C. Alberi’s Haiti Earthquake Response Fundraiser
Dante Alberi had been planning to go to Haiti as a volunteer, but found that entry into Haiti was officially restricted to medical personnel and disaster relief teams in the wake of the earthquake. Despite that fact, he decided to go forward and created a fundraiser donating what would have been his plane ticket, program costs, expenses and other volunteering incidentals in the form of cash to Mercy Corps’ emergency relief effort.

Commentary:

Our family’s heart and prayers are with the Haitian people. Dante, thank you for your intrepid volunteerism and always reaching out to make a difference in the lives of those in need. We are all so proud of you!  – Jeniffer Guerrero

It gives me great hope that we are able to come together and help those in need, especially at such times of devastation. Dante – you are truly a testament to the human spirit. Thank you for showing the way toward rebuilding the lives of those impacted by this horrendous earthquake. God Bless You! – Kim Frederick

Dante, it’s really amazing that you are doing this. I know that you have always been interested in working on humanitarian efforts in Haiti even before this earthquake occurred. Don’t be discouraged as you are keeping hope alive. I applaud your initiative and selflessness.  – Dionne Toussaint

Max’s Haiti Earthquake Response Fundraiser
Max was born and raised in Haiti, and after learning of the catastrophic earthquake stepped up and created a fundraiser with Mercy Corp to deliver the much needed shelter, basic supplies (food, clean water) and medical assistance to the over 3 million Haitians directly affected.

Commentary:

Max, thank you for organizing this. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during these difficult times. – Courtney (and Dave) Mangus
Hello, Max I don’t know you personally, but your story touched me. I pray that all will be well with your family and community in Haiti. Thank you for creating this page – Gillian Grannum
Hey buddy, I am so sorry to hear about all the devastation in your country – you and your family will be with my thoughts and prayers. Cheers to you for helping in the recovery.- Chirayu Patel
Thank you for taking on the challenge of fundraising for the developing humanitarian crisis in Haiti, Max. Keep us updated on your family’s situation. – Elizabeth Clark
All the Best for this noble Initiative. – Mira Patel

Allison Savage-Cairns’s Challenge
Allison Savage-Cairn went a very creative route with her fundraiser for Haiti. She challenged her friends and family to donate an equal amount to Mercy Corps that they spent that day on something for themselves. She went onto to say:

“It doesn’t need to be much…maybe the amount you spent on your morning capuccino or the tank of gas you put in your car. I think we can get to $5,000. And to get this started, I purchased a gown today for an upcoming business conference’s black tie dinner for $488. And we’re off…”

The commentary in response to her request altruistic frugality was moving, interesting, and at times, comical (see the last entry about the gift card from Santa):

Amount I spent on new business cards to launch my new interior decorating business. – Georgina Martin

Great idea Allison, and thanks to Diane for the link on Facebook! – Martha Mcclure

I am donating today because I have a warm house, a fridge full of food, and I can wrap my arms around my loved ones. I wish the same were true of those in Haiti, and hope Mercy Corps can alleviate some of their suffering. – SuEllen Benson

Thursday: $240.00 for a renewal of my Tele Aid device in my car. -Allison Savage-Cairns

Cam Worland ~ This week’s allowance. – Shawn Worland

Grocery store today, 44,000 colones, about $77. – Jean Rogers

$7.00 from my gift card from Santa. – Sophia Cairns
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Impressed with the average "American" response

As the reality of the quake and its devastation sank into my heart and mind, a deep feeling of dread took over. What if America and the world over sits back and fails to get involved. It has happened before on America’s own soil with Katrina — what hope does the often forgotten “other side” of the island of Hispaniola have?

I began to surf from channel to channel for anything evidencing a commitment by the US, and its citizens to plight of the Haitian people. In my cynical and panicked mind’s eye, I envisioned sporadic coverage and a lack of national focus despite the catastrophic nature of the quake. Instead, every channel and every news site was fully dedicated to not only what had happened, but also what the individual American could and should do to help the people of Haiti. There was a palpable level of advocacy and pro-activism that was missing in the wake of Katrina.

It was as if the failings of the past had somehow galvanized this surge of support and feelings of individual responsibility. The question now becomes how long will this surge of support and strength of focus remain in the forefront of the hearts and minds of the American people and the world over. As the old adage rings true ‘Time will tell…”

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How bad is the destruction?


Tuesday afternoon, January 12th, the worst earthquake in 200 years – 7.0 in magnitude – struck less than ten miles from the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds were damaged or collapsed, from shantytown homes to national landmarks to the presidential palace as seen above via Google Earth.

Despite it being very early in the emergency recovery effort, millions (i.e., Port-au-Prince housed more than 3 million residents) are likely displaced, with multiple thousands feared dead as rescue teams from all over the world converge on Haiti.

What is clear, however, is that panic and chaos are seizing the impoverished country in the earthquake’s aftermath. Much of the damage seems to be to the capital itself with towns leveled, and rubble and bodies line the streets.

There are almost no emergency services, very little medical assistance, and all hospitals in Port-au-Prince have been either abandoned or have collapsed.

Back in States, ours homes are a constant source of movement and wrenching worry as we frantically call our aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends to make sure that they are okay amidst these horrifying reports and images flashing across every channel.

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My Background


I was born in Arcahaie, Haiti coming to the US when I was 10 years old. Although my immediate family migrated to the east coast of the United States, the majority of my family stayed behind. Although I have come to view America as my adopted (and adopting) home, my heart beats and soul shines for the beautiful shores and wonderful people of my homeland.

Today, my heart beats quicker and my soul’s shine flickers and dims in the light of bad news and unanswered phone calls from home.

Sadly our situation back in the States is neither unique nor solitary. As the series of Daily News interviews today painfully illustrated:

“My family’s whole house went down – women, children everything,” said bus driver Ulrick Alexis, 38, of Brooklyn. “This is really, really bad.”

Security guard Carl Jean, 30, repeatedly called relatives in Haiti, finally reaching a cousin whose description of the damage sounded like hell on Earth.

“So many people died,” Jean said. “My cousin says people are just standing in the road screaming and crying. They have nowhere to go. The hospitals and schools have just collapsed.”

Ninaj Raoul of the Brooklyn organization Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees said she was getting word of utter destruction all over Haiti.

“I just spoke to a friend who told me that a church went down in an area his family is from, which is called Croix de Mission [in the southwestern part of the country],” Raoul said.

Dahoud Andre, host of a local Haitian radio broadcast called Lakou New York, said the largest cell phone company in Haiti, Digicell, reported that most of its cell phone towers were destroyed in the 7.0-magnitude shaker.

“People are trying to reach family and it’s very difficult. There’s a lot of panic right now,” Andre said.
“Everybody here is calling us, trying to find out what we have heard, if we have been able to get through,” he said. “It’s just a very, very tense difficult moment right now.”

At the Brasserie Creole restaurant on Linden Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens, grim-faced patrons tried to comfort one another, hoping against hope that the catastrophe wasn’t as bad as reported on TV.

“I’m helpless right now. I can only pray,” said Ralph Muse, 40, of Elmont, L.I.
Muse said worried for his sister, who works a hospital in Port- au-Prince. He wasn’t sure if it was the hospital that collapsed in the quake.

“I’m just hoping that it’s not as bad as they say it is,” Muse said.

U.S. President Obama’s just issued this statement:

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and west and ready to assist the people of Haiti.”

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Why Blog?


The catastrophic and life-changing events yesterday have spurred me to write a blog; something that I have been meaning to do for a long time. This will give me something to do and maybe stave off the intensifying worry and anxiety that seems to be rendering me catatonic.

Since it is my first time using a blog, I thought that I would experiment with the entire array of free blog options, those being Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, Movable Type and TypePad, and any others that I happen upon or are recommended. And yes, please feel free to email me with free blog suggestions and I will add my content to them. I will try to “pepper in” relevant Haitian phrases and cultural tidbits so that you guys can learn about this beautiful language and people.

EDIT: Thank you so much to everyone who contacted me with suggestions. I had no idea anyone was even reading this! I am taking your advice and adding my content to those free blogs. It will take time to manually copy my blog over to other suggested sites so please bear with me. It feels good to be doing something constructive other than channel surfing for news or scouring the internet for even a shadow of hopeful information.

On a lighter note, I will at some point do a side-by-side detailed review and rating of each free blog experience. I appreciated the windfall of suggestions and feel it is only right to respond in “kind”.

I am using these mediums as purely an expressive and informative tool and am purposely not implementing any adsense or other revenue creating enterprises for this blog. If you see any such advertisements they are the work of the site administrator and not myself. Thank you everyone for tuning in!

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