We just sent out our end-of-the-year Update from the Founder, and despite the extreme challenges in Haiti this year, including a cholera outbreak, a hurricane and, of course, the earthquake, we recognize that we’ve really been blessed this year. It’s been our most successful year to date, the progress we’ve made in Haiti is unprecedented and the list of what we’ve accomplished is far too long to share here. When we have a chance to step back and look at what all has been done, we are even more amazed at what has been accomplished with no full-time U.S. staff.
For the last 10 years, thanks to Elade’s vision and dedication and consistently committed volunteers, we are truly making a difference in Zorange and the surrounding areas. When you go to Haiti and see the tangible results of HFHF – a real bricks-and-morter school building, successful educated young people, a fully-stocked pharmacy, a tech-saavy computer lab – it really is hard to believe that it was all done without a penny ending up in the pocket of someone here in the United States (we do have about 60 full-time paid Haitian staff). If there’s any question about the fact that average people can make a difference no matter where you are in life, HFHF is proof. (inspired yet? want to join us? let us know!). And the fact that none of us is paid is something we’re kind of proud of – it means that the money generously donated goes straight to Haiti. It means more medical supplies, more grades added to the school, more jobs for Team Haiti (who are a huge part of the reason HFHF has been able to accomplish what we have!).
But with our entire U.S. staff, including our founder, working for the man full-time (call us selfish, but we like to eat), there are definitely limits to our ability to grow as an organization. There is so much we would love to do, so many big dreams we have, but we’ve got pretty full plates and can only make so many of those dreams a reality (I’m sure we’ve all given up sleep for this, and showering would be the next to go. Nobody wants that.).
That’s why we’re so excited to announce that we have just hired an Executive Director, our first full-time paid staff member in the United States! We have come to a place as an organization where not only is this possible, but it’s necessary. With an Executive Director on board, we can focus on building high-level partnerships in the community and with corporations, securing grants and various other activities that really make or break whether a nonprofit remains a small grassroots organization or can grow in terms of recognition and financial strength. We are in a position to support an Executive Director’s salary for several years, with the expectation that this person will grow HFHF enough to support the position and then some in the future.
We’ve spent the last few months accepting resumes and interviewing candidates, and are excited to finally be able to announce the creation of this position and the awesome person who will be filling it. So, ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you…
(if you just got “Senorita” by Justin Timberlake in your head, we are kindred spirits)
Lydia Dant! You may remember Lydia from her guest blog post last month or from some of our posts about our September Haiti trip and clean water initiatives. Lydia has a master’s in public health from Boston University and has been working at ECHO, Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, in Ft. Myers, Florida with her husband, Brian, for the last year. Lydia was instrumental in developing HFHF’s medical projects, including the Community Health Workers program. She first got connected to HFHF as part of a research project for her master’s degree, when she traveled through the nine sections of Bainet, surveying community members about their greatest medical needs. She’s been very committed to HFHF ever since and recently was instrumental in securing water filters for the community in Zorange. We’re confident that her public health experience and love for Haiti will be an asset in this role and that she’ll do great things for HFHF! Lydia and Brian, are apartment hunting and will be moving up to North Carolina in time for her January 1 start date. We really look forward to having them here with us and to see the way the foundation will grow.
As we grow, our vision is to replicate the model we have created in Zorange and carry it out in key locations throughout the Sud-Est Department of Jacmel – while keeping our same commitment to equipping Haitians to change their country and make a difference in their communities, rather than just providing hand outs. We can’t wait to see what happens next and look forward to an even stronger second decade. We’ll be doing a more in-depth post with Lydia in January, but for now, please welcome her on board!