What If? Blog
Jun 10th, 2015
Dear Friends of What If,
With just three weeks left to go in our $15,000 matching gift campaign honoring the 15th anniversary of the What If? Foundation and the food program, we are making good progress towards our goal.
Thank you to everyone who has donated so far! Your gifts are being matched dollar for dollar and will make twice as many meals at the food program possible.
If you have not yet sent in a donation, there is still time to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to double your gift.
I am particularly inspired by this matching gift campaign because I recently returned from my first trip to Port-au-Prince. As the new chair of the What If? Foundation board, I am so glad to have met members of Na Rive, What If’s Haitian partner, and to have seen the food and education programs first hand. My 13-year-old daughter traveled with me and we were both deeply moved by the experience, especially our time with the children at the food program.
We were struck by the depth of hunger among the hundreds of girls and boys who came to eat, many of them living close by in a post-earthquake tent community. I realized as I passed out the meals, how true it is that every donation matters.
I will always remember the smiles and laughter of the children as they played with each other at “the pink house” where the meals are served. I saw that the members of Na Rive not only provide desperately needed nutrition, but also a safe refuge and a loving community that the children look forward to every day.
Thank you for your support of the What If? Foundation and for helping us reach our goal of $15,000 by June 30th. When this is matched by our special donor group (which includes all the What If? Foundation board members) we will have raised $30,000 for the food program this summer!
What If? Foundation, Board Chair
May 21st, 2015
Meet Erin Manuel, an incredible 13-year old from a small town in North Carolina. For the last several months, Erin has been passionately raising money for What If at the farmer’s market and through other fundraising efforts. We are so inspired by Erin’s efforts and huge heart that we want to share her story with you.
Erin was just 7 years old when the earthquake struck Haiti. In her words, “it really moved me. I didn’t really think about it and ran to my room and dumped out my piggy bank, and ran back and gave it to my mom and said here’s $3.08 cents, can you give this to Haiti?” From that point on, Erin became focused on doing all she could to raise more money to help the people of Haiti. She began attending every farmers’ market and craft fair in her community. She sold baked goods and greeting cards she made from her own photography. She sold bookmarks her mother laminated from her drawings and “Love Buddies” – little handmade clay sculptures she created. She played her violin. Over time, as she devoted every Friday and Saturday to this effort, Erin turned $3.08 into substantially more.
For four years, she raised money for Partners In Health, sending more than $12,000 to support their community-based healthcare work. And then one day, her mom returned from the library with the book, “On that Day Everybody Ate,” by What If founder, Margaret Trost. After Erin read it, she decided she wanted to help the What If? Foundation too.
I really loved Mrs. Trost’s description of how she came to create that organization, after seeing all those children coming up to say, “Do you have something to eat? We’re so hungry.” And she got inspired by that. The reader really gets inspired by that as well. So I wanted to help all those children too.
In addition to attending farmers’ markets, Erin gives presentations in colleges, high schools, and elementary schools, raising awareness among audiences of all ages about the need in Haiti. Sometimes fundraising is personally challenging, as Erin relates:
It’s really hard at times, and I’m an introvert. So it was really hard being at the farmer’s market and saying to every single person that came up to my stand, “Hey I’m raising money for Haiti.”
But she pushes through her fears by focusing on the children she is helping. Photos of girls and boys at the food program motivate her, “like on the front cover of Ms. Trost’s book, like that boy eating that food, and just seeing some of the images from the website.” Knowing that she’s helping people in need keeps her going.
Erin shared that her fundraising efforts have inspired others to take action too:
I had one second grade girl come up to me about a week after my presentation to say, “Erin, you inspired me, and now my family and I are volunteering at an animal shelter.” That’s one of the most rewarding things for me, to know that I help kids feel like they can do something to help people. It’s just a chain reaction that I really like to be part of.
Erin envisions a Haiti where kids aren’t hungry, and where they live in safe, strong housing. She believes it’s important for change to come from within Haiti, and through partnerships where Haitians lead and run the programs. “That’s one of the things that the What If? Foundation and Partners In Health really do (well), is really partner with the people there.”
Erin would love to go to Haiti someday, with arms full of stuffed animals to bring to kids in hospitals. She also wants to visit the food and education programs she’s helped fund through What If, and to meet our partners at Na Rive and the children in Ti Plas Kazo.
With heaps of gratitude for not only your fundraising efforts, but for what you galvanize, everyone here at What If thanks you — Erin — for all that you do and inspire us to do!
May 12th, 2015
|Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,
I am so happy to share with you the good news that in honor of our 15th anniversary, a group of generous donors has offered to match, dollar-for-dollar, every gift we receive between now and June 30th, up to $15,000!
This beautiful matching opportunity will help provide crucial support to the food program this summer – as much as $30,000 when we reach our goal.
I am hopeful you will join us in this effort by making a donation to the Foundation before the end of June.
Gifts of every size will be doubled, and will make twice as many meals possible.
With severe hunger an ever-present reality in Haiti, the importance of the meals that are served at the food program every weekday by our partner Na Rive cannot be overstated.
Having just returned from Port-au-Prince, when I close my eyes, I can still so clearly see the anticipation and relief on the faces of hundreds of girls and boys as they receive their only meal of the day.
Na Rive’s head cook, Rosie, describes the food program as “meals of love.” She told me that every bite contains not only desperately needed nutrition and calories, but also a message of hope, connection, and compassion.
Rosie and I have known each other for over a decade, so as we reflected on the food program’s 15 years of service, we talked about the impact it has had in the Ti Plas Kazo community, how it has helped nourish a generation of children and helped foster stability and peace during extraordinarily difficult times.
We also talked about how a plate of food, lovingly prepared, connects hearts, even across thousands of miles, and how What If donors are “present” in every meal that is served.
It is in this spirit of love that the food program started 15 years ago and continues to this day. Thank you for being a part of this “great sharing” as it is called in Haiti, and for helping us sustain these meals through your support.
With love and gratitude,
Founder, What If? Foundation
Apr 21st, 2015
I am delighted to share a copy of our 2014 Annual Report with you. I hope you will enjoy reading about the tremendous difference your donations have made in the lives of thousands of Haitian children over the last year.
On behalf of our founder, Margaret Trost, the What If Board of Directors, our partner Na Rive, and all the children in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince …
Click image to access report.
(“thank you so much” in Creole)
for your ongoing support.
Executive Director, What If? Foundation
Mar 26th, 2015
Having just returned from Haiti, the images at the food program are fresh in my mind and close to my heart.
If you visited the food program today…
You would see hundreds and hundreds of children – sisters and brothers, toddlers and teenagers – all eating nutritious plates of rice and beans with a vegetable sauce.
You would see “Happy 15th Anniversary” signs celebrating 15 years of meals! The first meals were served in March 2000, shortly after our founder Margaret Trost met Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste and heard his vision of a community-based food program for the children of Ti Plas Kazo. Thanks to your donations, the meals haven’t stopped since.
You would hear an enthusiastic prayer of gratitude being sung just before the meal begins and then you would hear the sound of spoons scraping up every last grain of rice. For most of the children, this is their only meal of the day.
You would watch the devoted Na Rive cooking team dish up plate after plate as the second and third seating of children takes place. Their work to prepare this meal started early this morning.
You would see the smiles of several young girls who were recently added to the food program team. They’ve eaten at the food program for years and are now volunteering each day to help serve the meal. They told me they love having the opportunity to give back.
You would see relief on the faces of all the mothers feeding their babies.
You would be in what we affectionately call the “pink building”, a building that has been rented for the education programs and that recently started housing the food program. We are so grateful that extra space inside this building became available, allowing the food program to relocate temporarily. The timing couldn’t be better as the construction of a new kitchen/cafeteria and school building (our “Building the Dream” project) will start this spring!
And finally, you would see your donations in loving action bringing nourishment and hope to everyone present. Without you, these life-giving meals would not be possible.
On behalf of our partner Na Rive and everyone at What If, thank you for your prayers and ongoing support.