The Ridgewood Y's relationship with Haiti bagan in 2004 with our co-sponsorship of the Haiti YMCA summer soccer camp program.
Following the devastating earthquake in 2010, Tom Wells, World Service Committee chair, suggested that the Y partner with his foundation, Wells Mountain Foundation, to run a clothing drive. The response from the community was overwhelming and within a month, over 7000 boxes of donated clothes (including over 200,000 pairs of jeans) and shoes were collected, enough to fill twelve 40-foot containers. The decision was made to purchase these and to retrofit them in Haiti to become YMCA's and, community centers and schools.
The containers were shipped in May 2010 and following months of frustrating delays in customs clearance, a team of team of 17 volunteers from New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Ohio traveled to Haiti in February 2011 to distribute the clothes and retrofit the containers.
Rick Claydon, Ridgewood YMCA CEO and one of the volunteers who traveled to Haiti, said that two containers were completely transformed into a new YMCA building. “The new YMCA is perched near the top of a mountain with a stunning panoramic view and will provide adult literacy classes, a youth soccer program, a library and other social services for the community of Laboule.”
Clothing was distributed to over 1200 men, woman and children during the week long visit and YMCA d’Haiti staff continue to distribute clothing around the country. Says Wells, “With the quantities collected, our partners have enough clothes to continue distribution for a year or more. We also left them with the tools, materials and newly acquired skills to continue to convert the remaining containers and create new centers of hope throughout the still recovering country.”
In June 2012, Tom and team of 9 volunteers traveled back to Haiti to begin the retrofitting of three containers that will ultimately become a new community center in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets.
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