Miami raises funds for CWS Haiti response

Two grassroots fundraisers held in Miami, Florida, collected nearly $2,500 for the Haitian earthquake response work of Church World Service.

Maricely Santiago and artist Julio Gonzalez Consuegra at the gal
Maricely Santiago and artist Julio Gonzalez Consuegra at the gallery fundraiser, against a backdrop of his artwork.
Photo Mabel Hernandez

“I wanted to give the proceeds to someone who’s really doing something for Haiti.”
                  Manny Lopez

Two grassroots fundraisers held in Miami, Florida, collected nearly $2,500 for the Haitian earthquake response work of Church World Service.

On Sunday (January 17), Zu Galeria Fine Arts hosted a one-day sale of art by Julio Gonzalez Consuegra, who donated 100 percent of his profits – close to $1,100 – to CWS.  Gallery owner Manny Lopez said the artist “wanted to donate his work to an organization helping Haiti.  I thought of Church World Service right away.”

The Sunday fundraiser “was just decided on Friday afternoon!” exclaimed Mabel Hernandez, CWS Miami Office Assistant Director.  Lopez said, “I wanted to give the art sale proceeds to someone who is really doing something for Haiti and not have the money get lost in the cracks.

“I’ve met the Church World Service staff and many of the Haitians who have benefited from the work CWS does.  I told the artist about CWS and he said, ‘Wonderful, let’s do it!’”

On Sunday, persons attending the six-hour sale included “a Cuban gentleman who came with his wife and son,” said Hernandez.  “He said, ‘Your agency helped me when I came.’  He told everyone that CWS had put him up in a hotel and bought him meals.  He was so grateful.

“Another person, a lady, went to the CWS website when she found out about the benefit.  She was so impressed she gave a donation of $200,” Hernandez said, adding, “Now Manny has another artist with an opening soon, who wants to give 10 percent to charity.  Manny always thinks of us!”

Kenia Durañona, Whitney Maxey and Adrian Durañona
Kenia Durañona, Whitney Maxey and Adrian Durañona on Saturday morning, preparing to collect funds for CWS Haiti earthquake response.
Photo: Hector Junco

“I’m happy, I’m thrilled,” exclaimed Adrian Durañona, CWS-Miami Cuban-Haitian Processing Caseworker and a student at Florida International University, who organized a day-long street-corner collection for Saturday (January 16).  “We were out from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and collected $1,393.34.”

Durañona, 25, pulled together three CWS colleagues, three fellow FIU students and his sister and mother and equipped them with posters and collection cans.  Together they “worked” two intersections, approaching cars when stopped for a red light.

“I was impressed,” Durañona said.  “Miami can be a rough place sometimes.  But people were so receptive.  One gave $100.  Lots of people thanked us for what we were doing, and others apologized for not giving as much as they should, saying that’s all they had.

“Every time someone gave, we gave them a CWS flyer about what CWS is doing in Haiti,” he added.  “People appreciated that, since there have been reports of scams.”

The Miami-born Durañona, of Uruguayan and Cuban descent, described the genesis of his Saturday fundraiser.

“The media images and stories are staggering,” he said.  “Many of the CWS-Miami Office staff are Haitians.  You see the pain in their eyes.  Luckily most have located their family members in Haiti, but some have not.  It’s our obligation to help.”

“I was brainstorming with a coworker and we were thinking what we can do at short notice to help Haiti,” he said.  He used Facebook and word of mouth to pull Saturday’s group together. 

How to help

Contributions may be made at www.churchworldservice.org/haiti or by phoning 800-297-1516 or by mailing to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (please indicate Haiti Earthquake).

Recognized as one of America's Most Efficient Charities, Church World Service has earned an "A" rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy and was named one of the Top 100 Highly Rated Charities by GiveSpot.com.

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