HAS has received numerous heartfelt and inspiring notes and pieces of art from children of all ages from all over the world. And recently, we received a very special gift that touched my heart.
Did you know that the umbrella is a universal symbol for protection from the storms of life? The development office received an umbrella (pictured left) hand-painted by the children of the Seneca Middle School in Long Island, NY through The Umbrella Project. Along with the umbrella, we received a very generous donation raised through the efforts of hundreds of children across America, as well as many hand-drawn get well cards for our Pediatrics ward in Haiti. Over a thousand children nationally were involved in creating 250 one-of-a-kind artistic umbrellas in an endeavor to raise funds to help the people of Haiti. They named their efforts One World, One Heart, Helping Haiti.
The origins of The Umbrella Project have a fascinating connection with Albert Schweitzer. The founder of The Umbrella Project, Hilda Brown, had misplaced her umbrella, and wanted a new and more colorful one. She found some white nylon umbrellas and encouraged middle-school students to decorate them with designs which might encourage children who were struggling with diseases, including AIDS. The umbrellas were exhibited at the Albert Schweitzer Center in Great Barrington, MA in 1990. The Center was the former home of famed photographer Erica Anderson whose images of Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene brought him to the attention of many Americans.
This initial exhibit and sale evolved into an annual event. With time, the concept spread across the US and to international sites, as children design umbrellas and auction them for the benefit of selected charities. This year, The Umbrella Project selected Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti as its beneficiary and closed a loop which had originated 20 years ago to re-connect HAS in Haiti with Albert Schweitzer.
I would like to personally thank the following schools that made this possible: Verrado High School, AZ, Millenium High School, AZ, Desert Star Community School, AZ, West Sedona School, AZ, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, AZ, Desert Star Community School, AZ, Manhattan PS School for Children, NY, Seneca Middle School, NY, Chalmette High School, LA, and Hancock High School, MS
Many donations pass my desk, but none are more inspiring than that of children who are truly making a difference in the world. I am so proud of our future generation and just wanted to share this remarkable and historical story with you.