When a massive earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, the catastrophe shed light on the small island nation’s already dire situation of poverty. However, a group of three local women and many of their friends viewed the earthquake with the unique perspective of already knowing first-hand how difficult life was prior to the earthquake for the people of Haiti, and what its devastation would mean.
On Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m., Gail Alofsin and Colleen Hopkins, both of Newport, and Kate Whitney Lucey, of Middletown, will share stories of their personal experiences volunteering in Haiti in a special presentation at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center. The presentation kicks off the Center’s new Community Forum program, a series of presentations about various interesting and informative topics. The presentation is open to the public, and community members of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to attend.
“Our goal is to make our community aware of the challenges that the Haitian people still face, but also to share some insight into the nation’s remarkable spirit,” said Alofsin. “No matter how great their struggles, these people exude a remarkable warmth, hope and faith.”
Hopkins, who has traveled to Haiti twice in 2011 to volunteer in medical clinics and small villages, added, “While two years has passed since the catastrophic earthquake of 2010, the Haitian people are still in dire need of support and they have great potential to improve the nation’s living conditions and its future. Everyone here has the opportunity to be part of the solution, and I hope people will join us for this presentation to learn more about what we all can do.”
Alofsin, Hopkins and Lucey have been donating time, talent and resources to the people of Haiti through the Haitian Health Foundation for many years. Founded in 1985 by Alofsin’s father, Dr. Jeremiah J. Lowney, a Connecticut orthodontist, the Haitian Health Foundation is centered around an outpatient health care facility that Lowney built in southwestern Haiti, where there was a significant void for health care. The facility brings health services and hope to 225,000 of the poorest and most broken people in over 100 rural mountain villages. In addition, the Foundation offers an array of other support including house and latrine construction, animal distribution, feeding facilities, educational support, and other programs.
All three women have volunteered at the Foundation’s facility in Haiti, and have supported the efforts in an array of other ways, including collecting supplies and generating awareness for the situation. Through the Community Forum, the women hope to engage their neighbors in supporting the cause and to remind people of the struggles the Haitians still face, nearly two years after the earthquake that shed such public light on the nation’s plight. In addition to talking about their personal experiences in Haiti, Lucey, a photojournalist, will share some poignant photographs that capture the struggles and progress, and ultimately, the remarkable spirit of the Haitian people.
“It’s nearly impossible to put into words what a moving experience and privilege it is to help the Haitians but we will try, and we hope to inspire others in our community to help as well,” Alofsin added, “No gesture is too small to make a positive impact on these people. Whether it’s sponsoring a child’s education, funding a house, or supporting the give-a-goat program, which helps families become more self-sufficient, there are a variety of ways we can help the Haitians, and it is vitally important that we do.”
The presentation is free of charge and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested. For additional information about the presentation or to reserve a seat, please contact Alyson Novick at (401) 846-4828 x102 or email@example.com.