Campus, alumni moved to action by Haiti's plight
Within days of the Jan. 12, 2010, magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti, members of the Whitman community – students, faculty and staff – mobilized to raise funds for the relief effort.
- Pat Spencer, professor of geology and Patti Moss, Division III assistant, collected more than $2,000 for the American Red Cross in the name of the Whitman community.
- Hayley Sampson ’11 distributed dozens of Red Cross donation boxes across campus, collecting $310.
- Whitman basketball teams donated gate receipts from one night to the Red Cross, raising $612.
- The Black Student Union hosted two dances, one of them during a “Hope For Haiti” weekend on campus, grossing $600.
- Phi Delta Theta fraternity hosted a battle of the bands philanthropy event for Haiti relief. (Details on proceeds not available at press time.)
- Jack Lazar ’13 and Adam Delgado ’12 established the Haiti Relief Initiative (HRI) to encourage student groups and clubs to use their resources to heighten awareness of the crisis. The HRI has raised more than $700 for the relief effort so far and sponsored a candlelight vigil (pictured at right) with a poetry reading, musical performance and moment of silence to help retain awareness for the plight of most Haitians and the need for long-term care and assistance. HRI organizers hope to transform the group into the Whitman Humanitarian Coalition. Such a move will enable them to tackle a broader range of humanitarian issues. For details, visit Whitman College for Haiti at the Partners in Health Web site.
Trustee accepts award for corporate work in Haiti
On behalf of the company he chairs, John Stanton ’77, a Whitman trustee, accepted the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence in December 2009 for its positive impacts on Haiti’s economy and the firm’s philanthropic work in the country.
Little did he know the company, Trilogy International Partners, would soon face its most monumental service mission ever, as it took action to repair its wireless phone system – a true lifeline – and help a devastated country.
Company officials learned soon after the Jan. 12 earthquake that five members of its 571-person team died, more than 120 had lost
immediate family members and 381 had lost their homes. One of the first aircraft to land at Port-au-Prince airport held Trilogy’s engineering team. Trilogy went to work restoring its Haitian wireless operation, crucial in a country of fewer than 100,000 land-line phones for 10 million residents. The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 21 would report that “some people trapped under collapsed buildings” were able to text their whereabouts to alert rescue workers.
“We are essential infrastructure on a normal day,” said Stanton. “In times of crisis, the most important thing is keeping our system on the air.”
Trilogy also helped local government, police and fire departments with communications-equipment needs, donated more than 20,000 phones, gave free service to emergency responders and relief organizations, offered heavily discounted and free services to Haitian citizens, and established a tent city for Trilogy employees. In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, it participated in Mission 4636, which enabled mobile phone users to text a free request for medical help or food. It also worked with the American, Irish and Israeli relief efforts and the International Red Cross to send text messages with health-related information.
Trilogy International Partners, based in Bellevue, Wash., is the largest U.S.-head-
quartered company operating in Haiti and provides one-third of Haiti’s phone connections through its wireless subsidiary Voilà. The company is one of the largest employers in Haiti and has operated there for a decade.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during the December awards ceremony that the company is “helping to develop the social and economic conditions that will move Haiti further down the path to progress.” She said Trilogy “has funded more than 7,000 primary school scholarships in Haiti, making it the largest corporate scholarship sponsor in the country.”
The company also has set up a computer lab in Cite de Soleil, Port-au-Prince’s poorest slum; built computer labs, water stations, basketball courts and sponsored cultural festivals. It is the corporate partner of musician Wyclef Jean’s foundation, which focuses on youth and education.
Stanton, who has a master’s degree in business from Harvard University, co-founded three of the largest wireless communications companies in the United States, including McCaw Cellular Communications, Western Wireless and VoiceStream (now T-Mobile). He credits his Whitman College liberal arts education as the foundation for his success.