My Journey to Haiti: “How did you get involved anyway?”

Haitians Helping Haitians

There are so many quiet heros in the United States.  This is a story of how I came to know a very special quiet hero.

I am a car dealer in Connecticut.  We were building a new building for Key Hyundai of Manchester and needed lift equipment.  We decided to purchase the lift equipment from Ray Jurgen, a company that had serviced our lifts for years.  Ray Jurgen had just been sold to Rick Thibadeau and his brother.  We dealt with Rick for about a six months, picking out equipment, looking at CAD drawings, etc.  I knew he lived in West Hartford but other than that, he was just the lift guy.

One night, I was reading a West Hartford magazine that is delivered gratis to my house.  There was Rick, in Haiti, surrounded by a group of Haitian children.  In just a few pages, I came to know Rick as not just the lift guy, but as a quiet hero.  Rick and his brother owned a company that they sold to Granger.  Rick started to look for volunteer work.  After a few non-fulfulling volunteering stints, he went on a medical mission trip with his church.  He came back and knew that he had to do something to help.  With a small group of people, Rick started MATH, or Medical Aid to Haiti.  The mission of MATH is to provide a consistent, continuum of primary care to Haitians through a mobile medical clinic.  The clinic visits four sites a week in and around Port-au-Prince.  In addition, MATH supports four medical missions a year to bring down supplies and sub-specialties.  MATH has a budget of about $75,000 a year and hires Haitian doctors, nurses and administrators.  It is Haitian’s helping Haitians.  And, they service almost 10,000 people a year!  I am in awe of what one person can do.

So, how did I end up on a trip to Haiti?  After I read the article, the emailed Rick to ask about what he was doing.  Over the next few months, we had lunch and breakfast a couple of times.  I was honored when Rick asked me to be on the board.  I was unanimously accepted.  My goal is to help MATH with the business side of the charity; the mission and vision, the marketing and the outreach.  I just hope to bring some support to the amazing doctors, nurses and other people who had it in their hearts to start MATH.

In my first board meeting, I was asking a lot of questions.  One of the other board members piped up and said, “why don’t you come on our next mission trip in September?”  And, from there, the rest is history.

About Jill Merriam

I am a car dealer (, a Mom to my little loves and a wife to my hubby Rob. I am addicted to my mission to be help people drive nicer, newer cars, leadership development and leading a fulfilling life. I hope you enjoy my musings.
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