Fundraiser to help Haitians

Timothy Sandoval

An assorted group of poets, musicians and aid workers will hold a fundraiser to raise money for medical supplies in response to the crisis in Haiti.

The event will feature poetry readings from Sacramento poets laureate Bob Stanley and Sac State English professor emeritus Dennis Schmitz. There will also be a live performance from former Sac State student Pat Grizzell’s blues band.

The money raised will go to “Partners in Health,” a medical organization that has served in Haiti for more than 20 years.

“We wanted to raise money for a large enough organization that people would be comfortable and motivated to donate to,” said Loretta Schmitz, organizer of the event and wife of Dennis Schmitz. “(Haiti) is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The children drink sewage and can’t even get clean water. Haiti has just never had anything, and that’s really the tragedy of the earthquake.”

The event organizers suggested a donation of $25 for those looking to attend, but said any donation will be welcome.

Dennis Schmitz said he and Stanley will read poems that reflect their own response to the situation in Haiti.

“It seemed like a positive way to talk about continuing life. The people in Haiti right now had their lives so torn apart,” Dennis Schmitz said.

Larry Castagnola, a former aid worker in Haiti, will speak about his experiences working with Haitian schoolchildren in the 1990s, and about the history of Haiti since colonial times. Castagnola runs a nonprofit agency that raises funds for Haitian schoolchildren.

“It will be hard to even begin to describe what the poor people over there suffer,” Castagnola said.

Loretta Schmitz said presenting Haiti’s history will reveal the extent to which the United States has influenced the current state of Haiti. She pointed at America’s support of dictator Francois Duvalier and its support of the coup against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected president of Haiti.

“The situation has been created by the industrialized nations,” she said. “They took raw materials out of Haiti, but would not trade with a country that was run by blacks.”

Loretta Schmitz said she hoped that students and professors would come and donate for the cause.

“It will help us all have more awareness of this situation in Haiti, and hopefully more motivation to keep working,” she said.

Timothy Sandoval can be reached at [email protected].