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Haitians aim for more philanthropy from within

Carla St.Louis | 1/23/2014, 9 a.m.
At an intimate meet-and-greet for the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, Blacks from differing ethnicities took advantage of ...

At an intimate meet-and-greet for the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, Blacks from differing ethnicities took advantage of the evening’s tagline, “let’s connect.”

“For 2014, let’s prove that we can get it done,” challenged Gepsie Morrisset-Metellus, the night's host and executive director at Sant La Neighborhood Center where the event was held.

Paola Pierre, HACCOF executive director, welcomed new members like the Liberty Neighborhood Pharmacy, Genard & Associates, LLC. and Phil Multi Services.

While local professionals ate a buffet of scrumptious Haitian cuisine, Metellus encouraged guests to “set their philanthropic game up” by “supporting organizations that you’re familiar with.”

"Every financial contribution helps,” she said referring to the Haitian community at-large.

In attendance was school board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, who despite not being Haitian dropped in as a show of support to her Haitian constituents.

“As the school board member for District 2, I too serve the people of Miami-Dade County," said Bendross-Mindingall. "I had simply hoped to make clear that as public servants we are all bound by our mission to raise the quality of our community and that working together is an advantage to that feat.”

Guests shared ideas, discussed challenges and recounted successes from Miami-Dade County's expanding Haitian enclaves.

New members mingled with community activists while discussing a common theme in the night’s speeches--philanthropy within the Haitian community.

Philanthropy starts with us

Morrisset-Metellus spoke candidly about the belief that Haitians don’t participate in philanthropy.

Morrisset-Metellus explained it as “unwarranted” considering Haitians contribution in neighborhoods such as Little Haiti, North Miami and Miami Shores.

"This misconception that Haitians don’t participate in civic engagement is unwarranted,” sad Morrisset-Metellus citing considerable Haitian contribution in neighborhoods such as Little Haiti, North Miami and Miami Shores.“

Morrisset-Metellus continued: "For people to assume it’s no longer acceptable when in fact I see it around us [referring to Sant La]. It's all about the philanthropic endeavors of Haitian-Americans.

"Look at the renovations at Notre Dame Church," Morrisset-Metellus offerred. "7,000 square feet isn’t free.”

Bendross-Mindingall mirrored Morrisset-Metellus' comments on charity.

“There is an aspect of independence [when discussing] philanthropy,” said Bendross-Mindingall. “It means giving back and taking responsibility for the betterment of their community.

Bendross-Mindingall added: "Following this philanthropic attitude empowers us to tackle the many challenges of our community.”

Towards the end of the evening, Morrisset-Metellus said she hopes to increase philanthropy within the Haitian community by focusing on a plan that includes funding, messaging and communal groups.

Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center helps Haitians, many who are illiterate, in applying for and receiving government assistance.

It also provides financial help, employment search and immigration services.

The Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida encourages partnerships between Haiti and Florida for a strong and healthy business climate.

HACCOF also facilitates public and private sector collaboration and entrepreneurship within the Haitian community.

For more information about the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, log on to http://haccof.com.

For more information about Sant La, log on to http://santla.org.