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Linden Ponds in Hingham goes on air to help Haitian employees

Posted by Molly Connors  January 22, 2010 04:11 PM

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linden2.jpg The Linden Ponds community in Hingham took a break from its regularly scheduled programming to help relieve the suffering in Haiti.

In a two-hour telethon on their community television station Wednesday, the the retirement community's residents raised about $18,000 to assist the Haitian employees there.

"We have 44 Haitian employees that we wanted to wrap our arms around," said Meredith Scott, the director of residence life at Linden Ponds.

Scott said the funds would initially fund the immediate needs of the Haitian employees; some need to travel to Haiti to find or bury relatives, while others are working to bring family members to America, Scott said.

"Charity begins in the home, and we felt we could directly meet the needs of our employees," said Scott.

When those immediate needs are met, Scott said, Linden Ponds residents will decide which international relief organization will receive any surplus funds.

About 40 residents and 20 employees at the 1,100-person residence participated in the telethon, Scott said. Teams of six worked the phones for 30-minute shifts, three ran the cameras, six worked in the control room, and the rest performed on camera or picked up checks at individuals' apartments.

"Nothing was too much for anyone to do," said resident Ruth Beyer.

"I was pretty pumped up, I guess," said Marian Jenkins, 70, who was one of the telethon's on-air hosts. "I just wanted to see the phones light up, I really enjoyed it so much."

The Haitian employees interviewed for this story said they deeply appreciated the support that the residents and staff are giving them.

"They are our family," said Marie Jean Baptiste (on the right in photo) about the Linden Ponds community. Baptiste's younger sister and 5-year-old niece were killed in the earthquake, but she's not sure how her family will handle her niece's funeral because they can't find the child's body. Baptiste, 40, wants to return to Haiti when the country is safer.
When thinking of the hunger, thirst and homelessness that her loved ones -- including her 25-year-old son in Port-au-Prince -- are experiencing, housekeeper Marie Cecile Ulysse (on left) said she is desperate to get to Haiti as soon as possible, regardless of the risk.

"I don't care if I die, I want to go," said the 58-year-old woman, pressing a tissue to her eyes to keep her tears under control.

Another of the residents who could soon benefit from the fund-raiser is 52-year-old Patrick St. Armand, who had to wait about a week before he found out that his 10-year-old son, 13-year-old godson, and 32-year-old daughter are still alive.

In the next few weeks, as St. Armand hopes to leave for Haiti to try and bring his son to America, he may get more than money from his community: Linden Ponds employees are pooling their vacation days to give their Haitian colleagues enough time off to take care of their families, said Linden Ponds officials.

"God bless all of them, because they are good people," said St. Armand.

Fund-raising will run until Jan. 31. Anyone wishing to help can call Valerie Munstis at 781-534-7260.

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