I often get the reaction from people that I have no recognition of the possibility of failure. They often question where that comes from. I would like to say that I was born with it, but the truth is it comes from experience. Once you experience doing the impossible, you can never look at the world the same way again.
Six years ago an earthquake struck the birth place of my parents- Haiti. The country already ravaged by poverty and government mismanagement was now literally crumbling from the quake and wreckage. Thousands died and Thousands more were left homeless. A friend and I decided that we would do something about it. Without any experience, help, resources, but only the zeal to help, we crafted a plan to help the Haitian people. The plan we came up with was the creation of a volunteer tourism program where undergraduate and graduate students could tour Haiti while volunteering with the rebuilding effort and administrating of aide. We were a team of three doing this and at the time Haiti was considered one of the ten most dangerous places on the planet. The reason for this was that the tragedy brought out the worse in people. Food shortages and general chaos meant that looting and kidnapping became prevalent. Undeterred, we decided to go Haiti anyway. In fact, we even got twenty-five volunteers to come with us.
I was in charge of logistics, planning, finances and strategy. I wanted to make sure that not a single volunteer was in harm’s way, in addition to making sure that the volunteers could have as much impact on the Haitian people as possible. To accomplish this, both my co-founder Jimmy and I were on ground a month after the earthquake. The place was in utter ruins and we had to not only navigate through this foreign land, but also find lodging for volunteers. Within a week, we were able to secure lodging, find transportation and hire armed personnel- security was a top priority. Without any experience in promoting a volunteer trip, we utilized social media to get the word out and received an outpouring of interest. We settled on only receiving twenty-five volunteers to make sure that the program would be manageable. By July 2010, we fielded our first international volunteer program and yielded tremendous success. The volunteers raved about the experience and the opportunity to contribute to such a momentous effort.
Colline foundation, the name of the non-profit we founded, has since grown to curate a medical initiative on ground in Haiti in addition to collaborating with illustrious institutions like Harvard and Yale. We have since felicitated the trips of over hundred volunteers and continue to coordinate trips until this very day. The experience left me with the indelible imprint that anything is possible if you are willing to plan effectively and do the work. For more about this amazing tale, please check out the following here @ www.collienfoundation.org.
And so on
When I look at Scranton, I cannot but come to the conclusion that the effort to change this place truly pales in comparison to creating an international mission trip. I say this because we had to create all the mechanisms necessary to develop the apparatus to facilitate the trip. The amount of moving parts in all of this was maddening. In Scranton, the Scranton people only have one obstacle to overcome. There is really only one thing that stands between the Scranton people and an amazing future. The Scranton people must believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow. The story that is shared around the globe of transformational change will be Scranton’s story also. All you need to do is take that step.