Hope and Healing for Our Haitian Community

January 13, 2012

    
NYC Haitian Community Hope and Healing Fund Launch, February 2010


Hope and Healing for Our Haitian Community
 

Deye mon, gen mon
 
“Beyond the mountain, more mountains” – Haitian Proverb 

In many ways, it’s hard to believe that it has been two years since that sunny Tuesday when Haiti endured an earthquake more devastating than any disaster in the nation’s history. The pain of that day is still felt sharply, especially here in Brooklyn, home to one of the largest Haitian communities in the world. 
 
For the Community Foundation, the earthquake was the first test of our ability to rally in times of crisis. While it was beyond our charter to send funds and resources directly to Port-au-Prince, providing emergency assistance to the Haitian community in New York City was very much within our fundamental mission to Do Good Right Here
 
One hundred days after the earthquake, in partnership with United Way of New York City, we distributed the first grants from the newly formed NYC Haitian Community Hope and Healing Fund. Hope to fight the enemy of despair, and Healing because we knew that it would be months—years—before Haiti and Haitian communities around the world would recover.

The Fund’s Advisory Committee, chaired by Carine Jocelyn, Executive Director of Diaspora Community Services, and Dr. William L. Pollard, President of Medgar Evers College, featured prominent leaders of the Haitian community, who provided insight into where the needs were greatest and how the Fund could make an immediate and effective impact.

 
In year one, we raised $500,000 through the Hope and Healing Fund for case management, legal aid, counseling and mental health services, and educational programs provided to our Haitian community by a strong network of local nonprofit organizations. 
 


Regine Roumain, Executive Director of
Haiti Cultural Exchange:

 
“The Hope & Healing Fund provided critical leadership at a time of desperate need in the Haitian community. With support from the Fund, Haiti Cultural Exchange was able to work with children who experienced the earthquake, its devastation and trauma, and provide them with an artistic outlet to express themselves.  The fund allowed us to provide arts workshops, many with a therapeutic component; not surprisingly, house and home were a recurring themein one workshop, the kids created their own superheroes and heroines, including one who had the power to rebuild destroyed houses...We have continued our support of P.S. 189 and will be renovating their arts room and creating a community mural representing their spirit of community and hope.  We could not have done this without the support of the Hope & Healing Fund.”
 
Darnell Benoit, Executive Director of Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project:
 
“The Hope and Healing Fund really helped us to welcome many young people into a new community after such a tragedy. Flanbwayan was able to expand its services by providing more activities, like a book club, to help these young people feel at home and bring normalcy back into their lives.”
 

In 2011, as we encountered consistent demand for case management and legal services, we raised $50,000 in continuing support for these efforts from the Altman Foundation, the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation, and St. Francis College—which the Community Foundation matched.  In the fall, we renewed Hope and Healing Fund grants to Diaspora Community Services, CAMBA, Haitian-Americans United for Progress, and Haitian Family Resource Center, as well as the Center for the Study of Brooklyn for their continued work on outcomes and project reporting, and Community Resource Exchange for technical assistance and support to the Coalition of Haitian Service Providers.

Carine Jocelyn, Diaspora Community Services:

“The Hope and Healing Fund has allowed Diaspora to work with new community-based organizations and form partnerships to best serve this community, which was impacted by many needs. Chief among those needs were access to information and support to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake.
 
Today, through the support of the HHF, we are able to continue with our Haitian American Empowerment Program, which has served hundreds with various important and often life-saving services.”
 
Additionally, the Hope and Healing Fund partnered with UJA-Federation to create the City’s first NY-Haitian Leadership Fellows Program, now in its second year. The Fellowship develops the skills and capacity of human service professional serving the Haitian community—an investment in the community’s longer-term ability to meet needs. 

Marilyn Pierre, a member of the first cohort
of NY-Haitian Fellows, Director of the new
Haitian Family Resource Center (HFRC):

 
“The Hope and Healing Fund allowed HFRC to continue to keep its doors open to provide long-term solutions rather than short-term service. As for the impacts of the 2010 Earthquake that continues to manifest, the need for a long-term process of healing is clear…For many recent immigrant families adjusting to new surrounding and unfamiliar places, all the while rebuilding their lives, Christmas is an opportunity to come together, to give and receive; all comforts that many families are unable to afford. In response, HFRC’s Annual Children's Christmas Parties have meant so much to our Haitian children. We thank the Hope and Healing Fund for making this possible for the one thousand-plus families we serve.” 
 
As our work continues, as we climb many more mountains, we know that the burdens of the journey will be easier to carry if we share their weight together. Thank you to the many funders, nonprofit organizations, and individual champions who have made the Hope and Healing Fund something we are all so very proud of.    
  

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