Academy Award winner Sean Penn was in town this week. He did not come to discuss politics. He came to further hope, and to thank the thousands of Arizonans who have made contributions big and small to address the disaster that remains in Haiti.
You see, whether we are to the left or right politically, we should all be doing all we can, and we must continue to do so, for the horrific suffering of the good people of Haiti.
While the media attention of the dire situation has largely receded, the commitment of leaders like Penn remains. His charitable organization is spending $500,000 per month to support Herculean efforts of hope, comfort and care.
Here in Arizona we are doing our part to help Penn’s charity and others. The Pollack Haitian Hope Center was established immediately after the devastating earthquake. Partnered with Valley businesswoman Christine Ellis and her sister Shella Michel, who founded the Haitian Disaster Relief of Arizona, Ellis and her sister define commitment. That commitment has resulted in the Pollack Haitian Hope Center contributing some $3 million in money, goods and services to mitigate the suffering.
That’s a remarkable achievement this Valley and State should feel magnificent about. But as Penn shared with us, the incredible suffering is far from over. He tells tales of some 300 children immediately after the devastation forced to have limbs amputated with nothing more than blunt knives and vodka. Of rape in the camps. Of horrifically unsanitary conditions. Of the lack of jobs. Of the brutal reality that thousands of people and babies will still die. And he talks of a the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed many more.
Yet, he also speaks of the Haitian spirit. He speaks of an enterprising people that want to get back on their feet. And that’s where we come in, again.
While Arizona has already done a great deal, a great deal remains to be done. Join me. Join Christine Ellis. Join Sean Penn’s ongoing efforts to keep awareness alive as media attention dwindles. Here’s how you can help:
• Go to www.JPHRO.org. Make a donation. Volunteer. Help however you can.
• Call the Pollack Haitian Hope Center at (480) 926-1009. It’s located at 3164 N. Country Club in Mesa. Stop in. There are many ways to help. And the Haitian people need it, desperately.
I’m in the retail business. We revitalize shopping centers after they have seen better days. And when you think about it, that’s exactly what we all must do to help Haiti now. The media’s focus is gone. Ours must remain.
Michael Pollack is the Founder and CEO of Pollack Investments, a Mesa-based retail and shopping center development company