It’s November, just a few days before Turkey Day, and now that we’ve all survived (I think?) that over-the-top nauseously nasty election, sigh, I wanted to make my Thanksgiving post about something meaningful, so yes, this WILL NOT have anything to do with politics.
Under the category of ‘local do-gooders that go above and beyond in serving humanity,’ we have a home town guy walking among us who continues to raise the bar on how one man can and does continue to change the world in significant and meaningful ways. Even better, he does so quietly, with leadership, grace, and because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’
I’ve praised Harris Rosen before in this column because, well, it’s hard not to write about anything in our local hospitality industry without mentioning his name and singing his praises what with multiple hotels plus a world renown local college named after him. But today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share information about a project that this humble man has passionately spearheaded that most locals know nothing about. You see, Harris Rosen has an eye on Haiti, and it’s not with intent to build slick new hotels there. No sir, this man has made a long-term commitment to both relief and sustainability efforts that are commendable and legendary in one of the poorest countries on our planet. From collecting soap and other personal hygiene items from his hotel guestrooms and re-purposing them into life saving gifts for Haitians who are desperately in need of such things as well as collecting food and other supplies that are personally delivered by company representatives, Rosen continues to provide a floating life raft of hope on an island where many see only despair and drowning.
Food deliveries? Yes. Clothing, water filtration systems, tarps, tents and first aid supplies? Of course. All very basic needs, but it’s what those people need most and what Mr. Rosen can deliver. The humanitarian efforts started after the devastating 2010 earthquake and never stopped, even after the rest of the world had moved on to other crises in other countries. Realizing that Haiti is the homeland of more than one-third of his company’s associates, Harris Rosen wisely vowed to continue to make a difference in an area not only close to home but with strong residential ties to our Central Florida community at large. This past summer, the Harris Rosen Foundation in partnership with the non-profit Food for the Poor organization, built a new elementary school in the city of Les Cayes, Haiti. The goal was to make a difference in the lives of the underprivelged and underserved children and families in that region but no one could have anticipated that it would also be a life saving shelter during the recent arrival of Hurricane Matthew. Just days after the September 22 grand opening, the concrete block school provided a safe haven strong enough to withstand the devastation of Matthew.
“The timing was incredible,” said Rosen. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of the hurricane. We will continue our long-time support to the relief and sustainability efforts in Haiti and are doubly grateful that the school was completed in time to provide that much needed shelter during this tragedy.”
So, here in Orlando as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday whether from our comfortable hotel rooms [black Friday shopping lists in hand] or from that fantasy view of the world based on tourism and money, I thought you might be interested in one local man’s quest to do good with his own time and money on this earth.