Kenny Chen brings a high level of energy and dedication to every project that he involves himself in, so it is no surprise that he has been thriving in Pittsburgh’s Coro Fellowship program – a 9-month, intensive leadership training program that offers its Fellows hands-on experience in business, government and non-profit organizations. Kenny served as a Coro Fellow for the HAS Development Office in Pittsburgh in 2014 to help strengthen HAS public outreach initiatives.
Kenny’s commitment to HAS continues. After visiting HAS in Haiti in December, where he witnessed the incredible impact of HAS on public health in Haiti, Kenny dedicated his 25th birthday on January 26, 2015 to raising money for HAS. Within 30 hours of launching his fundraising campaign on December 28, 2014, Kenny surpassed his original $5,000 goal, and today, he has exceeded his goal of $10,000 for HAS.
In the following interview, Kenny explains the rest:
What are you raising money for? Why?
My 25th birthday is this year, and with almost a quarter century of amazing experiences under my belt, I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but much more to strive for. This became especially clear to me after a recent visit to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS Haiti, www.hashaiti.org), an incredible hospital in central Haiti which I’ve had the honor of working with over the past four months. I came back wanting nothing more than to support HAS however I could, by letting other people know about their work, and by raising as much money for them as possible. My birthday seemed like a perfect occasion to do both!
So you travelled to Haiti recently. What made you want to give back, why HAS, and why now?
For me, going to Haiti was sobering, yet inspiring. In a place where roads, clean water and electricity remain scarce, I find it nothing short of miraculous that a single organization can provide accessible healthcare for 350,000 people over a 610 square-mile area. Of course, this is only possible with the hard work of over 500 staff members (99 percent of whom are Haitian), and a 58-year history of innovation, care, and excellence.
In addition to that, January 12, 2015 (exactly 2 weeks before my birthday) marked the five-year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. I feel a need to say this: It’s important to recognize that after any disaster (natural or man-made), challenges remain long after they are gone from the headlines. And while awareness is one thing, it’s critical that when we try to help, we ensure that our efforts meet the affected population’s real needs. Spending a bit of time performing our due diligence on an organization can make the difference between saving lives and actually being counter-productive.
What can you tell us about how donations will be used?
I’m fundraising for the hospital’s Integrated Community Services (ICS) operation, which focuses on illness prevention through vaccinations, malnutrition screenings, health education, wells for clean water, and more, through a network of community health centers and mobile clinics around the whole region. I was drawn to support this work because I have a personal interest in holistic and preventive approaches to improving public health; also, there’s something that changes inside you when you meet the eyes of a malnourished infant and don’t know if she’ll still be alive the next day/week/month. When as little as $22 can cover vaccines and other preventative healthcare measures for a child for a year, every donation can give children like the ones I saw a much better chance at having a future.
How can someone help out with this?
Anything you can give will be much appreciated, both by me and by the people you’d be ultimately helping. I’m setting a goal of $10,000, but I’d really like to do more if possible. The best birthday present I could imagine is if I could reach 1,000 people ($25 each is $25,000!!). I don’t know how outlandish that is, but I do know I’ll probably need some help if I’d like to get anywhere close to that. So even if you can’t donate, I’ll be eternally grateful if you share this page on Facebook/Twitter/etc., tell people who might care, or anything else you can think of! For those of you who do donate, don’t be shy about telling the world how awesome you are! Along with your tax receipt and thank-you letters, you’ll also have a personal IOU for one big hug from me (optional, non-transferable).
Interested in hosting your own fundraiser for HAS? Email us at email@example.com and learn how to become a strong force for positive change by fundraising for Haiti’s greatest health needs.