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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Relief for Haiti

I was pouring medications at my med station when I heard a cell phone ring.
Looking up and expecting a patient, I was surprised to see a coworker grab at her pocket and bring a phone up to her ear without even looking at the number on the screen.

"Hello!" she started. then silence. "Mmmhmm," she said, and then, "Ok. Ok. Ok."

This particular co worker is a wonderful and hard working nurse for whom patients always come first, so her answering a personal call in the hallway was an immediate red flag.

"Are you ok?"
"No," she said, putting the phone away, "my entire family is in Haiti." And then, "I haven't heard from anyone."

She spent the shift quietly working with her patients; I thought I heard her sniff once, but I looked over and she was bent over a set of orders.

As we sat having lunch she showed me photos on Facebook of her home town, destroyed.
"I went to school there," she said pointing to a once cheerful blue and white building covered in dust. The building's roof was completely caved in.
"I hope the nuns are ok. That's where they lived."
We stared at the photo, each of us lost in our own thoughts.

All over our building, all over our program, all over the city and state, people tried to carry on their days here while their hearts and thoughts were miles away in Haiti.

I know some of you have already gotten this information from Twitter, Facebook or or wherever, but for the sake of organizing I thought I'd engage in some repetition.

Money, money money. Money is what is needed the most right now. Money to fuel the organizations that specialize in relief action. At the meeting held last night at Holy Cross, the resounding themes from every speaker were patience, prayer and money. There will be a time soon for canned goods and food, and even for more volunteer groups to deploy, but right now, money is the biggest need.

The problem is there are a lot of places that are asking for money right now.
So which ones do you pick?

The important thing is to try to channel funding into the most useful organizations. The programs with the infrastructures most suited to immediate action.

The Mayor's office distributed a list of the most useful places to donate at this time. These organizations are reputable, powerful and your money will be put to immediate and efficient use:

The Red Cross (website or text "HAITI" to 90999 to charge $10 to your cell phone)
Yele Haiti (website or text "YELE" to 501501 to charge $5 to your cell phone)
Partners in Health (through their website)
Catholic Relief Services (through their website or during Masses in Boston upcoming weekends)

Additionally, Mayor Menino has established a Haitian Family Relief Fund at Bank of America. You can make donations directly to the fund through Bank of America or through The Fund for Boston Neighborhoods, Inc, at City Hall.

I think that in situations like this it's rare that there's a whole lot we can do. And of course we all want to do something, but it's paralyzing to think that it wouldn't be enough anyway.

However in this case I am convinced that our pocket change will make a remarkable difference in the outcome of this first critical stage for life saving efforts. There are so many people willing to help with search and rescue, and all they need is our financial support to facilitate their aide. So let's do it.

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