How Haiti Kickstarted my Heart and my Life as a Hands ON (Adventure!) Philanthropist…..
Tara is Raising Money to Help Kids in Haiti!
Beyond money, Tara is investing all of her time, energy, talent and heart into Lets go to Haiti and Realtors For Good. Both of her organizations help underprivileged (yet super talented) kids in the States and Haiti.
If you’d like to help, you can donate by clicking below or on that PRETTY WIDGET to the upper right.
As we fly off to Haiti tomorrow, we are starting out w/ one donation so far from our friend, Ramsey! Yet, plenty of time as this fundraiser goes through Dec 31st, 2013….
For the story of how this all came about, read on……
My life completely changed in the last two years, in the BEST of ways-
In the Fall of 2011, I made the move across country- to Florida. It was an exciting yet somewhat lonely move, with one friend and a clean slate, starting from scratch. I had dreams of tropical living, new east coast explorations, being a successful real estate agent. I dreamed of warm nights. I dreamed of financial security. Galavanting from one beautiful waterfront home sale to the next. I studied. I got my real estate license. I signed on a with a firm and started working. All was fine and good, yet I noticed something was missing.
My brother Jeff passed away in Jan of 2005. He was an amazing brother, full of life and joy. At age 6, he told Mom that he wanted to be a “philanthropist” when he grew up. I’m not sure he could spell it, yet he could definitely say it. He lived his life like that, in service to others. Our parents instilled in us, this value of living open hearted and giving back, contributing to community. Over the years, I volunteered at dog shelters, children’s hospitals and the like, yet I knew there was something more I could do. Be a voice for something bigger.
As part of Jeff’s legacy, I wanted to pursue the dream of becoming ”philanthropists” for both us!
However, I thought any significant contributions would be years from now after I had accumulated some extraordinary amount of wealth deserving of such a title…… perhaps, after I started selling multi-million dollar homes, won the lottery, married a man of means and/or inherited a ” nice chunk”. Who knew what the future had in store?!
Yet, in the Spring of 2012, I started hearing about Haiti. My friends Mike and Aydika had just gotten back from a home build trip with Frank McKinney. I felt a tug in my heart. Haiti signs started showing up everywhere. I started Googling. I couldn’t find a trip that felt right. So I gave it over to the higher powers to show me the way. One month later, a sign came in Facebook. My friend, Heather from Aspen, posted about a humanitarian-yoga-adventure trip to Haiti that she was going on to be led by her friend, Lisa Rueff. Straight away, I emailed and said, “Tell me more! I want to go”. Within a fast & furious 3 weeks, Angela and I had our shots and ducks aligned- with the AMAZING GIVE FORWARD support of family and friends- …. and I never looked back.
There it was. I had found a way to make a difference that really fit for me-
……Helping families, encouraging kids, celebrating art, creating meaningful community- inside of a framework that involves a rich (underdog) culture and travel. I’ve always been a globe trotter. I’ve always been one to choose the path less traveled. Haiti is an exquisite, beautiful and yes complicated country, that continues to reveal new layers to me, about myself, others and this big, blue spinning ball that we call home.
Haiti also taught me that I do not have to wait to be RICH to engage in Philanthropy after all…. by using what resources I do have plus my voice, my creativity, my vision to start NOW.
So, one year ago, I decided to launch LetsGotoHaiti.Com. I realized that the more people that know about the beauty of Haiti and experience this kind of “vacation”, the better. It inspires us to return home and find new ways to connect to our own communities. It’s a philanthropic kick starter and heart opener for all involved!
Thanks to Lisa Rueff for introducing us to Haiti via her company YogaVentures!!
Lets Go will be partnering with our friends at Tour Haiti several times a year in offering Adventure VolunTourism trips. We will continue to focus on sustainable projects with the ACFFC- Art school for children, several orphanages, Angel Wings medical clinic, Cine film institute and Ubuntu Homes to name a few. Most of our time is spent in Jacmel, a vibrant, artisan seaside town in the SW of Haiti.
We also have Zee’ BEST time and it truly feels like a vacation yet the stories are much better than your typical visit to a Caribbean island.
Even if you’re not with us in Haiti,
you can still help by calling Tara when you need a Realtor!
When you work with one of our realtors nationwide, we give 10% back to our Random Acts of Goodness Fund for the Kids Education and Housing Projects.
Needless to say, it’s been a busy couple years…..
full of amazing new relationships, experiences, lessons, dreams, goals, disappointments, successes, business plans and highly daunting, 501C3 paperwork…… Never a dull moment!
I’m here to share this story and say that I’m glad that I didn’t wait to be rich to start living like a Philanthropist. I’m JOYFULLY investing all the resources that I do have in something that I believe in deeply. Showing up to help each other, supporting the arts & kids as we explore new cultures. The money WILL catch up eventually!
As you look to Giving Back this Holiday Season, Thanks for Keeping us in Mind and Heart. :)
Also, stay tuned on the website for updates from this upcoming trip to Haiti…
We are there Dec 5th to 11th!
Jon Bougher is a documentary filmmaker based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He has served as a producer, videographer and editor on projects in Haiti, Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Armenia. His documentary work has been screened at film festivals around the world and has featured on CNN International, NBC’s The Today Show and MSNBC.
While living in Haiti, he has taught documentary filmmaking to Haitian students with Haiti Reporters. Jon earned his M.F.A. in Documentary Film from Wake Forest University.
Take a Look at this Exquisite Haiti Footage created by Jon & his team at Artefact Haiti-
It’s not like me at all to engage in Talking Trash about Haiti, yet this time it’s a worthy discussion.
Unfortunately, trash is one of Haiti’s most plentiful resources, so Harvey Lacey’s concept to translate trash into homes is brilliant. Styrofoam and plastic never looked so good.
It’s earthquake proof too. Sam Bloch said it best recently, ”Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings DO.”
Kudos to Lacey for coming up with this vision that both provides safe housing AND cleans up the streets.
For those joining us in Dec, we will be getting hands on with these lovely lil’ blocks!
Also, listen here to Sam Bloch and learn about Haiti Communitere – our first stop in Port Au Prince!
Thurs, Dec 5th
- Depart Fort Lauderdale Jet Blue 12:39pm to PAP 3pm
First, we will go to Haiti Communitiere to learn about this organization and the vital role it plays in coordinating effective action between the many NGO’s working in Haiti. Learn about the new Recycled Ubuntu Blox Homes and make some BLOX. Visit Ubuntu home in progress in Cite Soleil.
Dinner and overnight at Haiti Communitere. We will sleep in an Ubuntu Home!
Friday, Dec 6th.
Breakfast & then Morning departure for scenic drive through mountains to Jacmel. Check into Cap LaMandou Hotel.
Afternoon Visit to our friends at the ACFFC, Art Creation Foundation for Children. Creative art, video, photo, paper maiche and music projects with the kids. Tour of historic downtown Jacmel and Mosaic Walls.
Pool time. Dinner at the famous Hotel Florita .
Sat, Dec 7th.
Visit Ubuntu Home Site and Tents To Shanti Home- Partner on Painting and/or Papaya Tree Planting Project.
Lunch. Angel Wings Medical Clinic visit. This new clinic will be providing free medical care to all residents of Jacmel. We will bring medical supplies and contribute on any finishing touches they need!
Dinner, Live Music at Cap LaMandou Hotel
Sun, Dec 8th.
Faith & Love Orphanage. The children lead their own church service and it is truly a unique and special experience. They sing their little hearts out! We will also bring supplies to the orphanage & spend time playing soccer & basketball, making jewelry and art with the kids.
Lunch at La Reference at Kabic Beach, Visit to Surf Haiti.Org & Afternoon Hike. Check into La Colline Enchantee. Dinner.
Mon, Dec 9th.
Big Adventure Day to Bassin Bleu! We will travel through the countryside and up into the mountains to the most beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes. Hike, Swim, Play, Enjoy the Stunning Natural Beauty.
Tues, Dec 10th.
Morning depart back for Port Au Prince. Lunch. City Tour.
Visit Historic Iron Market .
Check into Le Perroquet Hotel. It’s a wrap….party & dinner in Petionville! (B,L,D)
Wed, Dec 11th.
Morning adventure to Croix-des-Bouquets, amazing Metal Artisan Village. Lunch. To airport for 3:30pm flight back to the states.
Itinerary subject to change and new additions, yet this gives you a good idea!
On May 17th, I had the joy and honor of meeting Donna Karan, Philippe Dodard and Emeline Michel at Urban Zen’s Discover Haiti Exhibit in North Miami. The exhibit was on display through July ’13 at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in North Miami.
The passion and dedication by all involved in this project is very inspiring. The creativity and collaboration is beautiful. Their vision is to create an economic model similar to Bali, where the focus is on maintaining the richness of the culture and integrity of the creations while also raising awareness and demand for Haitian artisan goods in the global marketplace. Donna is on track to help Haiti do exactly this!
On our first day in Haiti in March of 2012, we visited one of the largest tent cities in Port Au Prince. Originally, over a million people lived in these post earthquake pop up cities. It has become a way of life for many, with around 350K people still living in tents three years later. We met a leader of one of the camps, named Genesis. He showed us around with pride and introduced us to his beautiful wife and child. Next, he brought out all sorts of gorgeous paper bead earrings, necklaces and bracelets. From various boxes and paper, he and his friends in the camp had been making these unique and colorful pieces of recycled jewelry. We all bought enough for ourselves and friends back home. It felt good to give back to the camp and take a lil’ piece of recycled Haiti home!