Community pulls together for Haiti

In the wake of one of the worst disasters the Caribbean nation of Haiti has ever experienced, local businesses and organizations are still coming together to help. From sports and games to dinners and haircuts, hundreds of locals are still reaching out a hand following the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake, responsible for the collapse of an estimated 20,000 commercial buildings and 225,000 residences that rendered 1.2 million people homeless and was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 200,000.

In Rehoboth, Poker at the Beach – a venue well-known for lending a hand – collected donations and raised nearly $1,000 for Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization, whose trained doctors and nurses have aided in the catastrophe. Each night of operation, Poker at the Beach gives its rake from the poker tables to a different local charity, but when disaster struck, they knew they had to do a little more.

“We have a weekly meeting,” said co-owner Chip Thompson. A few days after the earthquake,” he said. “We were sitting there thinking about what we could do, and we wanted to help out somehow. Obviously, a disaster like the one in Haiti is very moving.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Delaware Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was to be the benefactor of the money raised, and the Poker at the Beach partners were wondering how to benefit Haiti, as well.

“We still held their benefit,” said Johnson of DLLS, “but for that night, we donated all of the sales from our concessions, which would normally take care of our bills, straight to the [Haiti] foundations.”

In addition, players offered donations straight from their own wallets, and licensed massage therapist Kate Fitzgerald was on hand, raising money for Doctors Without Borders, as well. Poker at the Beach personally matched the dollar figure raised through donations, too.

“It was a great night,” said Johnson. “It went really well, and a lot of people benefited.”

By Feb. 1, scissors were snipping away at Rehoboth Beach’s Made Ya Look! Salon and Day Spa, also with the victims of the Haiti earthquake in mind. From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., the salon offered $25 haircuts and $5 polish changes to customers, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting Haiti relief funds managed by “Hope For Haiti Now” charities. Included in the charities were Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme, Yele Haiti Foundation and the newly formed Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation.

Bayside Chapel in Selbyville jumped aboard for the cause, as well, raising donations for the Brumbley Haiti Fund. Salisbury, Md., natives and missionaries Tom and Bev Brumbley headed for Haiti nearly 40 years ago. Since 1972, they established the Evangelistic World Outreach in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, one of the towns devastated by the earthquake.

What began as a church and orphanage developed into nine satellite schools, multiple Bible schools, a vitamin and feeding program, and a central campus, providing education for more than 900 kids and adults. The earthquake has destroyed many of these facilities, and so the Brumbley Haiti Relief Fund was established, working in conjunction with the local Red Cross and Salvation Army among other organizations.

A supply drop-off site at Bayside Chapel will be open through the month of February, and donations have already closed in on the goal of 100,000 pounds of food, medical and rebuilding supplies. Now, focus has shifted on $500,000 in monetary donations, aimed at being raised to rebuild the Brumbleys’ primary educational facilities. For more information about the fund, visit

Others are lending their time and effort, too. On Saturday, March 6, from 4 to 8 p.m., DiFebo’s Bistro on the Green at Bear Trap Dunes will host “Helping Hands for Haiti,” complete with a spaghetti dinner and plenty of entertainment. Guests can purchase tickets for $15, and children younger than 12 can eat for $8.

Silent and live auctions will be available, as well as an indoor flea market and bake sale. Live music from Paul Cullen, The Stims, Everett A. Spells and the Dagsboro Church of God will keep the groove going throughout the evening, and Lollipop the Clown will be around for the youngsters. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance. All proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross.

“The stories you hear are devastating,” said Lisa DiFebo-Osias, of the DiFebo restaurants. “There are so many generous people in this community. It’s great to bring them all together.”

For more information about the event on March 6, call Charly at (302) 537-6100 or Kathy Townsend at (302) 539-4550.