Haiti Relief Trips Require More Than a Checkbook
By the time many Washingtonians finish their August vacations, Doug Jefferies will have led three volunteer relief teams to Haiti. He will have been accompanied by a total of 25 volunteers, including friends as well as members and staff from Results Gym and Stroga. Jefferies owns both fitness companies.
The first team spent 18 days in July in Haiti. The second team just returned and the third team left Sunday for 18 days. So far, more than $8,000 has been donated through Results and Stroga.
The boots-on-the-ground reality of these missions is obviously much different than simply writing a check.
“The people participating in these trips are members of the community. Many haven’t done anything like this before and it’s always interesting to me to learn what drives people to sign on. This is more than donating cash. This takes much more of a physical and mental contribution on the part of the participant,” Jefferies said.
But, you don’t have to go to Haiti to help out. Donations are always being accepted and can be made online through the ResultsForHaiti.com. A drive for donated items like medical supplies, children’s clothing and diapers received an overwhelming response.
According to Jefferies, the teams do a number of things on the ground in Haiti: running education classes for children; assisting research units to help people overseas to get news of their families in Haiti; working in the construction area, helping families return to their homes; and, if qualified, assisting in the health, counseling and rehabilitation field.
The three flights to Haiti bring to 10 the number of relief trips led by Jefferies. The first two took place in August 2005 when 21 Result Gym members traveled to Sri Lanka as part of the Tsunami relief effort (raising $27,000 in donations as well). Next came five relief trips from 2006 to 2008 to Biloxi, MS; more than 30 volunteers worked on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
How did Jefferies get involved with Sri Lankan relief? “I wanted to do something more than just raise and donate money,” said Jefferies.
“We started speaking with NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] within a week of disaster and quickly signed on with Habitat for Humanity. We were their first ‘non-professional’ relief team to land in Sri Lanka. It was an eight-month coordination process.”