HAUP celebrates 37 years serving the community

Haitian-Americans United for Progress (HAUP), the oldest Haitian organization in the New York area, based in Queens, is celebrating its 37th anniversary. HAUP was started to assist Haitian emigrants and their transition to American life and over the years has provided a much-needed safety net to countless emigrants.

Chairman Rulx Rosefort recently greeted the packed hall at HAUP’a annual gala at Autun’s noting the gains clients have accomplished in these past 37 years: legal status, settled into homes, and having built comfortable lives.

He said, “We are seeing the fruit of all these past efforts by the sheer number of young people who identify themselves as Haitians,” proudly adding, “who are seeking and achieving the American dream and are working to give back or to take the community to new heights by getting elected to office or getting involved in public service.”

Upbeat Executive Director Elsie Saint-Louis Accilien reminded guests, friends, and colleagues, “Haiti remains a cause for concern as its leaders chart an uneasy path towards nation-building.”

She voiced her deepened commitment both to the community and Haitian people for increasing impact and being ready to respond to natural disasters.

HAUP does not just work with Haitians but all in need of their services that include adult education, health programs, parenting and survival skills, a domestic violence project, and immigrant/refugee assistance with TPS education and assistance.

“Our largest program that includes Haitians and non-Haitians are our services for the developmentally disabled,” said Deputy Director Marie Charles, whose competency has allowed Accilien to share the multiple responsibilities of running the growing organization.

“We’ve also extended our reach this year to an after-school program for 150 children, mostly of African and Haitian background, at P.S. 241 in Crown Heights.”

The program focuses on academics, part of the STEM-Science, Technology, English and Math–program with a goal to expose children to and develop interest in these subjects that minorities and women traditionally don’t go into. The STEM fields have been identified as areas where there will be jobs in the future.

“We anticipate this work will lead to other programs geared to their parents,” Charles says, looking toward ESL classes in the future for the parents.

“Our youth development program has grown, too,” Charles said. In addition to HAUP’s after-school program in Queens, it has a youth leadership and advocacy program for high schoolers to young professionals.

This past summer, in a program called Love and Serve, 25, primarily college-age youth, went on a 10-day culture and work trip to Haiti interacting with 600 school-age children in the Port-au-Prince neighborhoods of Masson, Guibert, and Sarazin. They also visited other regions.

Before the Awards Ceremony, Rosefort made a passionate appeal for funds, in the form of a loan. HAUP has raised money for rebuilding its well-worn Linden Blvd. offices, but needs a show of community support– $400,000 to begin construction; the money will be reimbursed by the city.

“The community does have a responsibility in supporting us,” says Accilien.

HAUP’s Director is adamant that for HAUP to provide the community with what is needed, financial support must come from the community.

“HAUP cannot be completely dependent on government grants or else it will be constantly under the pressure of shifts of government, “ she said.

During the gala, Ford Model Monika Watkins received the Toussaint Louverture Award in recognition of her commitment to open doors for Haiti’s children.

Engineer Rudolf J. Gédéon received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizing his creativity and success and Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano received the Community Service Award for his commitment to community and building the American Dream.