Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Helping Haiti Through a Friend

Minutes after learning about the earthquake in Haiti, I thought back to a conversation I had with my friend Catherine in December. We were in her work studio in Brooklyn, and I was helping her get ready for a holiday bazaar by preparing price tags made from recycled cereal boxes. As I sat cutting the neatest rectangles I could manage, my friend told me how her desire to start HIMANE, her eco-friendly fashion design company, began in her native Haiti, because there she had access to countless pieces of discarded clothing and other materials. Catherine spoke of making deals with garment factories during her upcoming trip to the country, which she hoped would help stimulate the Haitian economy in her family’s geographical area. I bought a few of her signature bags as presents, and for my own personal use, and I always recommend her collections of "upcycled" accessories and clothing to anyone interested in fashion. Business reasons were not her only motivation to visit Haiti this year; she was also looking forward to seeing her father again after several years. Her anticipation was contagious, in a good way.

Then the earthquake hit and everything changed. Catherine read and watched the news in despair, and then true panic set in. While she found out that her family members were physically unharmed and accounted for, the news of friends who were injured and killed became known to her in the days to follow. Instead of succumbing to grief, Catherine organized a fundraising benefit, People Helping People, for this Thursday evening in Brooklyn to collect funds and supplies for Haitian earthquake relief. She plans to take all donations to the country herself so she can personally distribute them to local hospitals, organizations, and private citizens in late March. I will be one of the enthusiastic participants.

I feel good knowing that I am helping Haiti through my friend Catherine. There is nothing wrong with donating money to bigger organizations involved in the relief effort, but this particular way works best for me. For more information on her fundraising efforts, please visit HIMANE Inc.'s blog.

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