Help Haiti raises over $70K for relief
Lisa Kaplan '13, one of the students heading Colby's Haitian Relief Effort, said she has "a theory about good karma points. It works kind of like a bank." Kaplan and the rest of the students and faculty who have been diligently raising funds since the earthquake on Jan. 12 cashed in big on the good karma they have been collecting at the Colby for Haiti Benefit and Auction. The evening's silent auction pulled in over $10,000 and, including dinner tickets, table seats and gift from sponsors, raised a grand total of $20,000. With this recent addition, Colby for Haiti has raised a total of over $70,000 thus far, more than tripling the group's original goal of $18,000. The funds raised will go to Partners in Health (PIH) and its Stand with Haiti program to help rebuild the country after January's devastating earthquake, which has taken the lives of between 200,000 and 250,000 Haitians and caused an estimated $8 billion in property loss.
The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement is sponsoring the relief effort, spearheaded by Kaplan and Danny Garin '13. Page Commons was bustling on Friday, Feb. 26, filled with students, faculty, parents, alumni and local guests. "You know there's a good turnout when you're bumping into people," Rock West, a Colby parent and event attendee, said.
Sodexo provided the dinner at a price reduced by 25 percent and President William "Bro" Adams underwrote the remainder of the cost. The men's baseball team, women's volleyball team and other student volunteers cheerily pitched in as members of the wait staff. Tom Hurley '12 played the piano during the meal and four of the College's a cappella groups sang at the beginning of the evening. The evening featured a silent auction with items donated from local businesses and people associated with the College. Items up for auction ran the gamut from Red Sox tickets to gift certificates, wine, original Haitian art and a handmade solid wood breakfast table that was crafted and donated by West.
"What is needed in Haiti is not just immediate relief from this disaster, but a commitment to rebuild a society, an economy and a culture that will take care of Haiti," Sandy Maisel said, explaining the group's choice to donate funds to PIH, which has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. Maisel, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government and director of the Goldfarb Center, has been working directly with Kaplan and Garin on the relief effort since it began.
PIH "works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in 12 countries around the world," according to its website. "PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities and to share lessons learned around the world." Mary Amory, a representative for PIH, spoke at the event. "Partners in Health really walks their talk," she said. "Their long-term recovery plan is built on this core philosophy of health and social justice: access to health care is a basic right. It needs to be free and accessible. It should be in partnership with the community at all levels of delivery...it must address basic social and economic needs and that in order to be universal and sustained [PIH] must partner with the final public center." PIH is currently focusing on the urgent medical and surgical needs of the people of Haiti and has developed a $125 million recovery plan. "Believe me, your efforts do bring hope. Your vision inspires the generosity of the people in the field, those in the back office and other colleges...The energy that you've put in is fueling the work that Partners in Health tries to do," Amory said. "On behalf of [PIH]...I thank you for everything you have and will continue to do."
Yanica Faustin '10 and Jessica Frick '10, who were in Port-au-Prince, Haiti visiting Faustin's family when the earthquake struck, also spoke at the dinner. "The people of Haiti were hospitable, friendly, gracious, warm, funny, kind, curious and very inviting and inclusive," Faustin said. The two friends were having a great time in Haiti, she said, but "That was before the earthquake hit." The girls spoke of the destruction they saw there and the fear it inspired in them for the safety of their family and friends.
"Luckily, they were safe," Frick said. But many others were not. "We didn't know what to do. We were very worried about the people we had met there." Survival--"if we were even going to make it back [home and to Colby]"--was at the forefront of their minds there, she said. The girls were able to take a military plane to Florida. Frick said she is proud of what the College has done and urged guests, "not to forget Haiti."
The girls presented a slide show of scenes from Haiti while they spoke. The evening closed with Garin and Kaplan announcing the total amount raised. In addition to the dinner, funds have come from "Colby for Haiti" T-shirt sales and an anonymous donation from two alumni who promised to donate $25,000 if the College could raise that much as well. Suffice it to say, "we have met our challenge," as Maisel said. "There's still definitely a need for aid, so we're not going to stop here," Kaplan said. "What we're going to look to do in the future is to organize JanPlan trips, spring break trips[and] summer trips for students to volunteer to help... and rebuild Haiti." "This is a wonderful start to help the country, but there's still so much more that we can do, even from here in Waterville, Maine," she said.