Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You are invited to meet Erin Jones-Le, Saturday, February 6, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gallery One

Gallery One has a history of working with non-profits to raise funds. Over the years, we have assisted in raising thousands of dollars for organizations as diverse as Mentor Top 25, Western Reserve Riding for the Handicapped, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Ronald McDonald House along with churches, temples, women's leagues, medical associations, schools, parks, philharmonic and symphony associations, zoos, humane societies and more.

So when our eldest granddaughter Erin Jones-Le (who was raised in Mentor) called us to ask for a special birthday gift (she turns 29 in February), we said yes without hesitation. You see, her request was not for clothing or electronic equipment. It was simply for an opportunity to return to her hometown to meet with as many locals as possible to talk about Haiti and the work of Partners in Health, the organization that for nearly 25 years has worked to improve health conditions in a country that has endured decades of poverty and political violence.

I first heard of Partners in Health when Erin’s husband sought a Harvard residency. Born in Vietnam, educated at Dartmouth, Berkeley and Stanford, Phuoc Le (MD, MPH) was an outstanding student and had already taken every possible opportunity to assist those without access to adequate health care - in the states. Tibet, China and beyond. His impressive resume would have easily gained him a residency anywhere in the country. But he wanted to work at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He wanted to join Partners in Health and participate in the efforts of its co-founder, Paul Farmer, PhD, MD, Harvard professor, and Brigham attending physician.

Through its collaboration with the Brigham, Partners in Health had long selected a handful of residents from each class to become Global Health Equity residents and join PIH in its admirable pursuits. Dr. Farmer and the board did select Phuoc to be a Global Health Equity resident, and for the next several years, Phuoc traveled to Haiti, Rwanda, Lesotho and Malawi, helping locals set up medical facilities that would hopefully be self-sustaining.

After learning about the destruction and grave need in Haiti, Phuoc and Erin prepared for Phuoc to leave for Port au Prince. Erin and Phuoc knew that, because of its long-standing presence throughout Haiti and its reputation for operating on a human rights framework, PIH would be pushed to unimaginable limits.

So Phuoc quickly altered his residency schedule and mentally prepared (if possible) to help.

In the meantime, Erin shopped for requested medical supplies - and beef jerky, nuts, cans of tuna and granola bars...knowing that those might be Phuoc’s only rations for the next few weeks.

On January 20, Phuoc left for the Domican Republic, where he picked up a new PIH vehicle and drove to Port au Prince with whatever supplies he could carry.

Now, as Erin reads his text messages and works to keep his spirits (and hers) up, she continues to volunteer for PIH....thanking generous donors and helping to spread the word of Haiti’s needs.

So back to what Erin wants for her birthday. She simply asked for Gallery One to open its doors to her friends and friends of her family...and their friends and associates. And to Gallery One’s friends...and their friends and associates.
So on Saturday, February 6 from 11-2, Gallery One will host a birthday bash for Erin Jones-Le...open to the public. Erin will show a film on the work of Partners in Health and share messages from Phuoc and other PIH members.

Please join us.

Perhaps you or your friends will feel moved to write a check (or make a credit card donation on the PIH website) to Partners in Health or to other organizations that work in Haiti. Or perhaps you just want to be more informed. Or just show your support to the thousands of volunteers who are working to help Haitians rebuild their shattered lives.

Hoping to see you on February 6.

Norah Lynne Brown (grandmother and Gallery One founder)

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