Last night I had the privilege of attending at a wine tasting party for a non profit organization called “Be The Power of One”, an organization started by a local couple Tim and Susan Madden who many of you may know. The organization was started in 2009 in a Miami taxi cab as a grassroots volunteer effort to reduce poverty through education. Shortly after the devastating earthquake which struck Port-au-Prince in 2010, leaving over a million people homeless, Tim and Susan went to Haiti to see how they could help. This visit led them to focus their efforts on an elementary school in that area and since then they have coordinated the donation of much needed school supplies, and assisting in the setting up of a local water well.
The event was held at the Cool Bean Café in Oakhurst. The very gracious owners, Casey and Alyssa, closed their doors at 5:00pm so that Be The Power of One could have an undisturbed gathering of other like minded community folks during the event.
Fantastic wines were donated by local wineries, Idle Hour in Oakhurst, West Brook Wine Farm in O’Neals, and Fasi Estate Winery in the foothills. Mountain Candies was very generous in donating an assortment of Godiva chocolate truffles and great food was prepared by Mary Ann Zeigler a local party wizard.
The event was very well attended and the exchange of ideas on how to further the cause of general volunteerism, and reducing poverty through education was both inspiring and though provoking. Everyone agreed that through the power of a single person, positive changes can be fostered throughout our community and the world.
For more information on Tim and Susan’s on going efforts, please visit them at www.Facebook.com/bethepowerofone
Written by Tim Madden
Be the Power of One got its start in 2009 in a Miami taxi cab. Susan Madden returning to the airport from a business trip began a conversation with her taxi driver that would change her life. She had recently read “Three Cups of Tea” and was sharing her belief that education was the way out of poverty. It just so happened that her taxi driver, Carsel St. Fleur, a pastor at a Miami church shared this opinion and was driving taxi to help support a school he had started in his hometown of Pignon, Haiti.
During the 45 minute drive they shared their beliefs and dreams about the power that education has to change the world. By the time they arrived at the airport Susan had already decided that she would soon take Pastor Carsel up on his offer to help with his school’s summer program.Less than six months after this conversation a devastating earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people and leaving more than a million homeless. Susan and her husband Tim decide they needed to do something to help Pastor Carsel and the people of Haiti. Through phone calls and emails with Pastor Carsel they learned more about life in Haiti and how they might help.
They felt that before they could ask family and friends to donate money, school supplies and sports equipment to help with Pastor’s school they needed to see things firsthand.So in August of 2010, on the day of their second wedding anniversary, they arrived in Port-au-Prince and witnessed the massive destruction that was still evident eight months after the earthquake. After an afternoon in Port-au-Prince they traveled 90 miles over some of the worst dirt roads they have experienced to arrive four hours later in the small town of Pignon.
Their week in Pignon started the next day with the sounds of young voices singing Haitian songs as Susan and Tim arrived at school. For the next five days they worked with class of young Haitians, 3 to 14 years old, teaching them Englishand directing a number of craft projects. On the second day, with the help of another organization, they were able to provide food for the students’ lunches. This may have been the only meal many of these children had for the day. When word got out that the summer school program was providing lunches their class size grew for 50 to nearing 200. Susan and Tim quickly gained a new level of admiration for teachers.
Even though this week was filled with the challenges that come with no electricity, no running water and 200 energized young people the Maddens were hooked on doing whatever they could to help their new friends in Haiti. The work of Be the Power of One has grown since that beginning in August of 2010 and now includes the completion of a new well, ongoing support of school staff, regular shipments of school supplies, a growing list of donors and regularly planned trip to Haiti.
“When we started Be the Power of One it was an adventure that came from the heart. We didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what we were getting ourselves into. I’d guess this is how successful non-profits start. Now at times it feels like we are just hanging on for an amazing ride.”