The Intercontinental Miami hosts Chef with a Purpose: Haiti event By Betty Alvarez

The InterContinental Miami was the host for its Chefs With A Purpose: Haiti partnership with Project Medishare for Haiti, Inc. and International Firefighters Assistance, Inc. (IFA). The second annual Chefs With A Purpose: Haiti fundraising event was held on March 30 at the InterContinental Miami and benefitted the Haiti rebuilding efforts of these two nationally recognized, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

Both organizations have been providing assistance to Haiti well before the 2010 earthquake and were present, ready to assist, in the Port-Au-Prince ‘ground zero’ at the moment tragedy struck. This year, the organizations are joining forces and leveraging their resources to collaborate on efforts to train emergency responders and critical care medical workers in Haiti.

IFA’s mission and work in Haiti initiated in 2002 with a small helmet and bunker coat donation from South Florida firefighters. It was founded by Lieutenant Nate Lasseur, a 13 year veteran of the West Palm Beach Fire Rescue on a trip to Haiti, his parents’ homeland. The need in early 2000 remains the same now as there continues to only be two firefighter stations in the country. IFA has since grown to provide humanitarian assistance, support, education and training to firefighters and emergency rescue workers in underprivileged countries.

Project Medishare has been on the ground in Haiti since 1994, founded by Drs. Barth Green and Arthur Fournier from the University of Miami School of Medicine. The organization has evolved into a vital component of Haitian life running the only trauma and critical care hospital in Haiti with the only Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the first spinal cord injury unit for paralyzed patients in the country. As a healthcare provider in Haiti, Project Medishare also trains healthcare professionals, funds sustainable health programs and provides technology, supplies and equipment to their clinic in Haiti and surrounding areas.

The Chefs With A Purpose: Haiti event was conceived after the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010. At the time, the InterContinental Miami reached out to its staff to determine how many were from and/or had family in Haiti. Nearly 90 employees, approximately one-fifth of the hotel’s staff, were affected. The hotel assisted its employees and families in a variety of ways such as assistance in locating lost loved ones and monetary and product donations. The fundraising event was created shortly thereafter to be able to have a greater reach in assisting the people of Haiti.

The InterContinental Miami organizes this event by donating its staff time and event space and services with 100 percent of the event proceeds going the Project Medishare and IFA. “Chefs With A Purpose: Haiti was born of compassion and the urgency to partner with local community organizations in the relief efforts. We are honored to partner for the second year with International Firefighters Assistance and to begin a new partnership with Project Medishare,“ said Robert Hill, General Manager of the InterContinental Miami. “One year later, this event takes on a greater importance because Haiti is not forgotten. More than ever we need to continue to promote awareness and provide much needed help that is still required.“

Dr. Barth A. Green, Co-Founder and President of Project Medishare stated, “Project Medishare is delighted to be partners in the exciting Chefs with a Purpose: Haiti event. Project Medishare serves hundreds of thousands of people throughout Haiti with programs ranging from community health and development to trauma and critical care. The most important ingredients in our recipe for Haiti are creating infrastructure and sustainable programs including capacity building (i.e. train the trainers) which are all mixed together to create a final product labeled long-term commitment.”

“There is strength in unity and we feel so fortunate to be partnering with the InterContinental Miami again, as well as Project Medishare,” said Lt. Nate Lasseur, Founder and President of International Firefighters Assistance. “Together we can leverage resources to do more and empower the Haitian people to respond to and prevent the numerous public safety and health concerns they face. We can’t stop emergencies from occurring, but we can help Haiti better prepare for them.”

Guests of Chefs With A Purpose: Haiti were greeted with music by renowned Haitian performers Mushy Widmaier and Phyllisia Ross. The event was featured over 20 tasting stations each offering a signature menu item by the participating top chefs. The evening’s silent auction will feature items ranging from hotel stays, unique dining experiences, art and other luxury items. A new addition this year is a Haitian art exhibit by Michele Frisch, Haiti’s leading art curator and collector. From March 16 through April 6, the lobby of the InterContinental Miami will feature Haitian art from the Galerie Marassa collection and coincide with arteaméricas, the premier fair of art from Latin America.
About InterContinental Miami
Celebrating 25 years as an icon of the Downtown Miami skyline, the InterContinental Miami is located at the crossroads of Miami’s Business and Arts & Entertainment districts. A beacon for business and leisure travellers alike, the hotel rises 34 stories over the city with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and the Port of Miami. The hotel features 641 luxury guest rooms, including 34 suites; 32 meeting rooms with over 84,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, including a spectacular, newly renovated, Grand Ballroom and a 196-seat theater; 3 restaurants, including Table 40, the only Chef’s Table in Downtown Miami; full-service fitness center and spa at mySpa Miami; and rooftop pool deck with gardens. The InterContinental Miami is a proud corporate citizen of the Miami-Dade community, invested through its annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, Chefs With A Purpose, and other charitable events. For more information and to make reservations, contact the InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami, Florida 33131, at 305.577.100 or by visiting www.icmiamihotel.com.

About Project Medishare for Haiti, Inc.
Project Medishare is a United States 501(c)(3) that has been in Haiti since 1994, with a focus on community health and development, including programs in healthcare, education, clean water, malnutrition, protection for orphans and vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS treatment, agriculture and women’s empowerment programs. Project Medishare programs include running the only trauma and critical care hospital in Haiti, with the only Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the country caring for Haiti’s sickest children, a prosthetics program which has put limbs on over 200 amputees with plans to do hundreds more, a comprehensive rehabilitation program including Haiti’s first spinal cord injury unit for paralyzed patients, an amputee Soccer Team composed of Project Medishare patients, a major Cholera treatment center, and a school based health center program that treats over 20,000 children a year, and a community health program that provides comprehensive healthcare services to over 100,000 people in Haiti’s poorest area. For more information, visit www.projectmedishare.org.

About International Firefighters Assistance, Inc.
International Firefighters Assistance, Inc. (IFA) is a non- profit organization that provides humanitarian assistance, support, education and training to firefighters and emergency rescue workers in underprivileged countries. The work of the IFA has been crucial to the Haiti’s rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. They have trained hotel staff in Haiti on first aid skills which they were able to use during the earthquake, coordinated and trained a group of over 20 Haitian firefighters in a fire training facility in the US, participated in the search and rescue mission and rescued many victims from the rubbles during the earthquake and they’ve delivered tents and care packages to the Haitian firefighters, their families, providing shelter to over 200 homeless earthquake victims. Additionally, the IFA has designed Project HELP: Haiti Emergency Lifesavers Program. This is a relief program designed to assist communities in taking care of their families and neighbors in the aftermath of major disasters as well as personal emergencies. Over 100 Scout Leaders from throughout Haiti participated in this three day certification program. This was a Train the Trainer session which provided each leader with the training and the manual to return to their areas to train other Scouts within their regions. For more information, visit www.ifarelief.org.

Photographs by Betty Alvarez

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