Less than a day after a huge earthquake hit Chile in South America, the Davis Odd Fellows hosted their ‘Hope for Haiti’ benefit event on Saturday night at the Davis Lodge on B Street.
Attendees enjoyed music, food, a silent auction and speakers to show continued support of Haiti, and UC Davis environmental policy and climate change graduate student and Haitian native Jean Marc Francois Pierre shared his experience with the audience.
A devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12 killed thousands and left at least one million people homeless. The country is still struggling in the quake’s aftermath.
All money raised will be shared amongst four local organizations that have connections to Haiti – Doctors Without Borders, the American Red Cross, Freedom from Hunger and Partners in Health.
“Our basic mission is to raise money for local organizations that need help,” said Davis Odd Fellow secretary and event coordinator Renée Liston. “Usually we keep it in Yolo County, but in this case special need was needed for Haiti.”
Davis Firefighters Local 3494 prepared and served a tri-tip barbeque dinner, and the silent auction bidding came to a close before Pierre shared his experience about his return to Haiti after the earthquake to find his wife in Port-au-Prince.
Audience members reacted strongly to before and after photos from the nation’s capital, including comparisons of the Palace of Justice and Port-au-Prince Cathedral, both now collapsed.
Pierre spoke about differences of the Haiti he had left 11 months ago versus the Haiti he returned to in January. He said there are many more people homeless, looting stores and living in parks.
“People are just wandering in the streets,” he said. “Like ants with no destination.”
Pierre’s story reinforced the purpose of the Davis fundraiser. Odd Fellow Member Sharla Cheney said the event was planned and executed so quickly thanks to passionate people in the Davis community, especially Odd Fellow President Dave Reed, the driving force behind the food, music and auction fundraiser.
“There are a lot of people who are concerned with conditions over there [in Haiti],” Cheney said.
Over 200 tickets were sold in pre-sale and the Odd Fellows are hoping the event will bring in thousands of dollars to help Haiti.
Attendee Rick Gonzales, president of the Mexican-American Council of Yolo County, said Pierre’s presentation was inspirational and parts were emotionally heavy.
“One thing I like about Davis is that Davis is there despite the economy,” Gonzales said. “It’s so generous of Davis to do this.”
Pierre said he created his presentation in response to his church and the local community’s desire to know more about Haiti aside from news clips and Twitter updates.
Keeping with the mood of the night, filled with local bands and hearty food, Pierre said he still smiles despite the formidable future he and his country face.
“Try to not make life complicated,” Pierre said. “Try to laugh in difficult moments.”
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at email@example.com.