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My life at DRW: Helping out in Haiti

At DRW, many of our employees make time outside of work to volunteer and support charitable causes – from mentoring and coaching to serving on boards and serving meals, they’re committed to giving back. Recently, one employee reached far beyond Chicago to help an area in need. 

I began participating with Partners with Sassier after I learned about the school they built in Sassier, Haiti. The school had made a huge impact on the students, serving a community of mainly subsistence farmers who were unable to read or write and living off less than $2 of income per day. To me, the best way to make things better for the next generation is through education. The students in this school were progressing at a very good level and it became clear that this was an opportunity to help a dramatically under-served community.

When I first visited Haiti in 2013, I was immediately impressed by the pride and grit of the Haitian people. I was speaking to one local resident about health care in the remote region and learned that there were no local health services, with the closest hospital a half day’s walk away. Even that hospital was underfunded and in need of support, though with a vibrant new administrator who was really interested in righting the ship.

We partnered with the new administrator to help with some of the needs in the hospital and worked on building a clinic in the remote village. That clinic opened on September 1, 2016, just before Hurricane Matthew devastated the region.

After Hurricane Matthew, we went down to do a damage assessment of the school and clinic, and of the community as a whole. Additionally, we provided the first relief food, cleaning supplies and water purification tablets in many remote villages, as the larger relief organizations were focused on larger cities and towns throughout Haiti.

Although the situation on the ground is bleak, the people are unbroken. I have found the work eye opening. It is so clear that our work is appreciated by the Haitian people, and the cost/benefit ratio of this endeavor is very high. I know my work is just scratching the surface, but it’s been rewarding to be a part of it. Personally, I prefer a hands-on approach to giving back and being able to actually visit the area in need and provide targeted relief has been an extremely rewarding experience.

I’ve been fortunate that DRW has allowed me flexibility in my work schedule to respond quickly to a crisis and offered to provide logistical support in the event of an emergency evacuation. The needs of the Haitian people are a long way from being satisfied, but the strength of the nation continues to impress me.