Member Generosity Funds Earthquake Recovery in Haiti
by Yurianna Mikolay, Executive Director Ocean Reef Community Foundation
About six weeks have passed since the Foundation partnered with Ocean Reef Club to respond to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in southwestern Haiti on August 14th. The Foundation’s Haiti Disaster Relief Fund, which was originally created in the wake of the 2010 massive earthquake and assisted again after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, was immediately reactivated. As was done after those disasters, the Club quickly sent an appeal to the Membership to donate on behalf of the more than 120 Haitian-American employees with family in the affected region.
Thanks to the community’s swift and generous response, within a week of the message going out we were able to wire our first grants, about half the $140,000+ received, in a timely and efficient emergency response. The Foundation’s extensive experience and relationships with numerous partners, established through working on disaster relief in Haiti for more than a decade, also played an important role in our ability to act fast. While expeditious, decisions are based on consultations with numerous experts and are mindful of the specifics of Haiti’s already tenuous state, further complicated this time by the pandemic.
It was great to see a consensus among experts across a Center for Disaster Philanthropy zoom panel right after the quake on the importance of including and getting resources to local organizations. As the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs representative put it: the response should be “as local as possible and as international as necessary.” That idea drives our overall strategy, which prioritizes working with US-based organizations that have a longtime presence on the ground with largely local, Haitian staff, and investing in institutions and solutions that will remain long-term to meet needs as prioritized by the Haitian people themselves.
Given the preponderance of quake-related injuries and ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and in context of the broken status of Haiti’s health system, our initial emergency distributions went to organizations with a strong healthcare component. While most general disaster relief funding will flood in covering WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene), tarps, and other basic necessities (which our grantees are also providing), we saw an opportunity to have a meaningful impact by focusing in on healthcare as the most acute need.
To date, the Foundation has distributed $70,000 in grants to Hope for Haiti, Health Equity International for St. Boniface Hospital (which is central and undamaged, so now caring for most of the sick and injured from the whole affected peninsula), the Haitian Health Foundation, and the Haiti Development Institute of Boston Foundation, which is using our funding to get small, rural clinics where most get their healthcare back up and running throughout the region. Together these grants give us very good coverage and reach throughout the geography of the impacted areas. The organizations are coordinating efforts both with other agencies and the government, which is critical.
In addition, the Club handled donations intended for direct distribution to Associates as has been done with past disasters. A formal process to identify hardships was initiated and they too have begun to distribute monies to impacted Associates.
By the time you read this, we will have finalized and distributed a second batch of grants that is more specific to reaching families of employees. Through information collected by the Club’s Human Resources team, we have now been able to confirm that the highest concentrations of employee families are once again in very hard to reach, remote areas in Pestel and the adjacent Cayemites islands. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest hit areas. We sent special missions to these areas after Hurricane Matthew and have now identified partners positioned to do so again. The plan is to follow up with a third round of grants to support agricultural recovery and other initiatives to help the economies of these rural communities recover long-term. Details and complete report to follow.
To contribute to the effort, mail your check made payable to Ocean Reef Community Foundation, with “Haiti Disaster Relief” in the memo line, to 35 Ocean Reef Drive, Ste. 148, Key Largo, FL 33037. Questions about our effort and/or grantees?
Your support of the All Charities Weekend strengthens entities like the Ocean Reef Community Foundation, which enhance Ocean Reef Club’s Unique Way of Life, and enables the Ocean Reef Community Foundation to provide for thousands in Key Largo, Homestead and Florida City. Call 305-367-5996 to learn more.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.