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What If? Blog

Jan 13th, 2015

Watch MSNBC’s interview of Margaret Trost

MSNBC News Nation with Tamron HallMSNBC’s Tamron Hall of News Nation, interviews our beloved Founder, Margaret Trost, about the impact of the What If? Foundation.

If the video below doesn’t load immediately, visit the “Born in the U.S.A.” series site here.

Mesi Anpil (thank you so much) for your ongoing support and encouragement,

WILogo-BlueAvenirBlueThe What If team


Jan 12th, 2015

A letter from Haiti on the 5th anniversary of the earthquake

Dear Friend of What If,

On this day, which marks the 5th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, we hold the people of Haiti especially close to our hearts.

Below is a letter written to What If donors by Lavarice Gaudin, the program director for Na Rive, our Haitian partner. In it he shares reflections on the earthquake, our partnership, and the life-giving work that has been possible thanks to your support.

Lavarice with Margaret and Suzanne

We are deeply grateful for our partnership with Na Rive, which offers a trustworthy and effective way to provide hope and opportunity to children in Port-au-Prince.  

And we are grateful for your encouragement, your prayers, and your ongoing donations that are so crucial for this work to continue.

Piti piti na rive (little by little we will arrive),

Margaret Trost
What If? Foundation


Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director,
What If? Foundation


Bonjou! Hello! friends of the What If? Foundation,
 Lavarice Gaudin 
I write to you from Haiti and thank you for your support and love.

Five years have passed since the earthquake that shook our country and broke our hearts. We remember it like it was yesterday.

On January 12th, the members of Na Rive will hold a prayer vigil to remember and honor the 300,000 people who lost their lives on that day. And we will remember in our prayers all of you who helped us.

The Haitian people remain strong and resourceful. We have deep faith and continue to hold onto hope for the future.

If you came to Port-au-Prince, you would see the rubble has been cleared and some new government buildings and hotels have been built, and also some new roads.

Homeless mother outside tent But most people who lost their homes are still without a safe place to live. More and more people are hungry every day because they cannot afford to buy rice. The cost of living keeps going up. School tuition keeps going up. There is growing frustration throughout the country because people thought things would improve by now.

But you have made such a difference in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood. You have been with us and alongside us — before, during and after the earthquake.

4 What If Scholarship Students
When What If partnered with us almost fifteen years ago, we were able to start serving hot, nutritious meals to the children; and then you made it possible for hundreds of parents to send their children to school.

Because of the great food and education programs you support year after year, the children and their parents have been able to make it through all these difficult times.

We see this every day in their eyes, and in their strength, courage and determination to have a better future.

We do this work with all of our hearts. We believe love is the most powerful force.

 Rosie, Na Rive staff, serving with love 
There are so many who need help and we cannot help them all, but whoever is cooking the food, like Rosie here, they do it with love. Whoever is working with the students, they do it with love.

And so, as we enter the New Year, we will continue, with your help, to feed the children, and teach them and guide them. We want to help them become leaders in this community.

We hope you will support the What If? Foundation again this year and continue to pray for us.

The children of Ti Plas Kazo join me and the rest of the Na Rive staff and volunteers in thanking you for standing with us all these years.

Young boy in school
Piti piti na rive,
  Lavarice Gaudin

   Na Rive Program Manager


Dec 31st, 2014

Still time to make a 2014 tax-deductible donation!

Dear Friends,

Bòn Ane! ("Happy New Year!" in Creole.)

As 2014 comes to a close, thank you for remembering the What If? Foundation in your year-end giving. We’re reminded every time we look at the photos below of what a critical difference your donations make in the lives of countless girls and boys in Port-au-Prince.

To make a year-end tax-deductible donation, click here:

Make a Donation

And if you have already sent in a gift to support the food and education programs, know how deeply grateful we are for your support.

On behalf of What If, our Haitian partner, Na Rive, and the children we seek to lovingly serve, we thank you for your generosity and wish you a happy, healthy New Year!


Margaret Trost
Founder, What If? Foundation

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director, What If? Foundation

Children eating at food program A scholarship recipient in action
 Group of students in afterschool class  Na Rive cooking team at work

Dec 22nd, 2014

Your Donation’s Impact: A First-Timer’s Perspective

Dear Friend of What If,

A few weeks ago when I visited Port-au-Prince, our newest board member, Kate Doherty, came with me. It was Kate’s first time in Haiti.

After our trip, Kate described to me her experiences at the food and education programs and with our partner Na Rive. Her perspective is powerful and offers fresh insight into the miracles taking place in the Ti Plas Kazo community thanks to your donations. I asked Kate to share her thoughts with you in the letter below.

Thank you for supporting the What If? Foundation and Na Rive this holiday season.

donate button

Margaret with Lavarice Gaudin & Florencia

Wishing you peace and joy,


Margaret Trost
Founder, What If? Foundation


Dear What If donors,

Rosie with plates

Lavarice Gaudin
My background in Catholic Social Justice has brought me into contact with many nonprofits and justice communities around the world. Having volunteered in organizations in Zambia, Cambodia, Honduras, Mexico and Palestine, I’ve seen amazing work, and have also seen well meaning people seriously miss the mark. 

Without hesitation, I can say that I’m deeply impressed and inspired by the collaboration and good work of Na Rive and the What If? Foundation.

Na Rive, led by Lavarice Gaudin, is a rare gem in the nonprofit world. Its staff – from those who lead the after-school program to the cooks who prepare the meals – are people from the neighborhood, with a vision and commitment to make their country a better place to live.

I saw why the programs are so effective; because Na Rive knows how best to address their community’s needs, and they do this with innovation, hard work, and a lot of heart.
Scholarship recipients

 Sisters at the food program

I met a promising new generation of leaders – Na Rive recipients of What If scholarships, who are using their new-found educational tools to give back to their communities.

At the food program, I saw hundreds of hungry children and mothers with infants. Lavarice said that despite daily challenges to serve as many as possible, there is always hope, always a new idea, and always a community member willing to step up and do the work.

And thankfully — because of your generosity, when those ideas arise, and those people step up, there are resources to support them.
This is the most powerful example of solidarity. A friendship – which started with Margaret Trost and Father Gerry Jean-Juste 15 years ago – has now grown to include many friendships among the hard-working visionaries at Na Rive and the What If staff, board and donors who help to make these visions a reality.

I am deeply grateful for the time I spent in Haiti, and to have witnessed first hand the impact What If and Na Rive are having in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood.
Gratefully yours,
Kate Doherty

Kate Doherty

What If donor & board member

Oakland, CA

Kate Doherty

Nov 20th, 2014

Back from Haiti! An invitation and messages from the children

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

Four weeks ago, as I helped pass out plates at the food program, there were hundreds of girls and boys sitting shoulder-to-shoulder awaiting their meal. Two boys happily eatingMost were under 12. Mothers and their babies sat off to the side, where it was a little quieter.

As the Na Rive cooks dished up the day’s food — paid for by donors like you — the little ones waited as patiently as they could, restless with hunger. This meal was “tout bagay,” they told me.  “Everything” for them. “If it weren’t for this program, I would have no food today,” Walenton whispered.


Florencia, a ten-year-old, told me she loves the rice with bean sauce Margaret Trost with Florencia and Lavariceand has been coming “as long as I can remember.”

With Thanksgiving near, in the spirit of gratitude and sharing …

I invite you to help us keep funding these life-giving meals by clicking below. 
donate button
It’s been almost 15 years since our partners in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince served the first food program meal.  Walenton, Florencia and most of the other children who gather to eat every weekday weren’t even born then. 
Group of women team cooking
But thanks to your loving support, the seeds planted all those years ago have grown into a vital community-based program that provides nutrition and hope for the most vulnerable, day in and day out.

Your support this holiday season will also fuel a vibrant education program that includes school scholarships, an after-school program, and summer camp.

Economic club member

“We are building the next generation of Haitians,” Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive‘s Program Director proudly shared.

Veronica told me she loves math and dreams to be an engineer. “I saw what happened during the earthquake. Haiti needs good houses, well engineered.”

Vanessa said she wants to be a psychologist. “The earthquake caused so much trauma.  I want to help people have a better life.” 

Other scholarship recipients were active in Na Rive’s economic development club, which just launched its first community cooperative selling small bags of Haitian rice. 

Vanessa proudly standingPaula summed it up when she said, “Students are the hope of the world.”  Indeed.

Download your copy of our Fall Flyer our attempt to capture the spirit of such remarkable people.

Throughout my trip, my heart was touched over and over again by the children – by their resilience and courage. I was also deeply inspired by our partners – the members of Na Rive – whose vision, devotion, and innovation have developed the programs we fund into powerful vehicles of hope and opportunity. “Little by little, child by child, we are helping transform the community,” they told me. 

And each day I was in Haiti, I felt deeply connected and grateful to you, knowing that these programs would not exist without your generosity and compassion.
Thank you for your support this holiday season, for your prayers, and for believing in the power of small steps. 

Piti piti na rive”, little by little we will arrive,  



Margaret Trost

Founder, What If? Foundation