By Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Grantmakers
Here are some of highlights and tangible recommendations from yesterday’s briefing on Haiti, co-sponsored by Leadership Greater Washington and the Board of Trade:
- Money is still the number one need. Coordinating the delivery of specific goods is very difficult.
- Haitian students at colleges and universities in our area will be impacted in many ways. In addition to the potential mental health issues of being away from their homeland during this time, they may be unable to continue their education. Summer internships for these students would be helpful.
- Creole speakers are needed in Haiti to serve as translators for American relief workers. (If a grantee has Creole speaking staff willing to travel to Haiti, a funder might consider supporting that cost/the cost of a replacement staffer).
- Immigration legal guidance is needed. Families are trying to get to the U.S. and children who have been orphaned, some in the midst of adoption procedures and others potentially available for adoption, will need legal support. Grantmakers might consider supporting legal aid organizations, which are already operating on low funding.
- Give blood. Linda Mathes from the Red Cross commented on the quantity of blood that had been sent to Haiti and the ongoing need. (Only 5% of those eligible actually donate blood.)
We heard from presenters from the Salvation Army and the Greater Washington Haitian Relief Organization. Ambassador Raymond Joseph of Haiti stopped by briefly, first to thank Americans for their generosity and responsiveness and then to comment on the massive long term needs of his country.
Stanley Lucas of the Greater Washington Haitian Relief Organization reminded us that Haiti has suffered devastation on the magnitude of Europe following World War II. The infrastructure of the country has been largely destroyed. He called for a new Marshall Plan to help them to rebuild and recover.
Jim Dinegar of the Board of Trade challenged the corporations in the region, particularly those with strong organizational management consultancy practices, to offer assistance. He reminded the audience that while many types of volunteering are helpful, what is sorely lacking right now is infrastructure coordination at the macro level.
But again, money is the number one need. Congress is considering legislation that would allow donations to Haitian relief made between January 12 and February 28, 2010 to be tax deductible for 2009.
Update: The House votes in favor. Quick Senate action expected.