Volunteers: The Next Generation

Newsletter issue: 
June 2015
News item date: 
Thursday, June 11, 2015

By Mary Jo LeGrand (Longtime THP Community Member)

      Lily Foulkes – the daughter of Helena (Buonanno) and Bill Foulkes, two longtime supporters of The Haitian Project – remembers thumbing through the pages of the Haitian Project News as a young child in her parents’ Providence, RI home and feeling inspired to volunteer someday.

Lily is not alone. For many of those who get involved with THP, it is a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or even a grandparent who inspires them to join the community. We call these volunteers “Second Generation” volunteers – those who follow in the footsteps of family. Over the years, this “avenue” has produced board members, long-term Volunteer teachers and many other essential community members.  THP Volunteers are often compared to leavening agents in dough – helping the community rise to its fullest potential. But what is the inspiration for the volunteers who inspire our community?

For Lily, family involvement with THP runs deep. Her grandfather, Bernie Buonanno, Jr., and her uncle, Vinny Buonanno, are also both longtime supporters of THP. Perhaps having four family members to inspire her is what led Foulkes to spend a week at Louverture Cleary and volunteer her time in THP’s Providence headquarters. Her hope to teach in Haiti will have time to develop as she begins her college education at Harvard University this fall. 

Christopher Moynihan, Nathan Walsh, Emily Marquet, Drew Williams and Carey Prince are just a few more among many who have been inspired to volunteer because someone in their family took the first step. Christopher’s family name is a cue to anyone familiar with THP as to how he became involved. With his father, Brian Moynihan, nurturing THP through its earliest days to the present and his

uncle and aunt, THP President Deacon Patrick and Christina Moynihan, approaching their 20th year on mission with THP, it would seem likely that Christopher would follow suit. 

While a student at Brown University, Christopher was able to listen to lectures that Deacon Moynihan gave at Providence College and at Brown. In these lectures, Christopher remembered, “I learned a lot about the tenants of development in Haiti, the importance of family and community and other core values of the Project.” 

It was Christopher’s trip to Haiti his sophomore year at Brown that really solidified his interest in THP: “I had so many diverse expectations going into the trip from my uncle, cousins and father's stories.  While I no longer enjoy the luxury of meeting with my uncle and the members of the Project on a monthly and sometimes even weekly basis, I still hope to remain involved with the Haitian Project going forward.”

Nathan Walsh hails from the THP community in Chesapeake, Va. His family became involved with THP through former board member Col. Jon Stull while he was stationed with the U.S. military in Haiti. With his parents as dedicated THP supporters, Walsh made three separate trips to Haiti to support construction efforts at the school. During his time at Louverture Cleary, Nathan came to believe in the power of education – “Plenty of NGO’s can come to Haiti with money, but that alone does not drive change” he said, adding that, “I believe the success of THP leaves a lasting legacy in Haiti.”  

Emily Marquet served as a volunteer in Haiti from 2011-2013. Her older brother, Michael Marquet, was the first in the family to walk through the gates of Louverture Cleary, along with his fellow classmates and teachers from LCS’s sister school in Alexandria, VA, Bishop Ireton. 

A few years later, Emily made her first visit to Haiti.  While in college, she traveled to LCS with another classmate to stage a production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Emily and Michael’s mother, Mimi Marquet, who was serving on the THP Board of Directors at the time, accompanied her on this trip.  Emily recalled, “Having my mom there that week and having her work side-by-side with me creating art in Haiti is a huge reason why I returned as a Volunteer. The Haitian Project family certainly strengthened my family.” 

Drew Williams and Carey Prince are second generation volunteers who also had parents on the THP Board of Directors to inspire them.  Drew’s mother (Sue Williams) and Carey’s mother (Susan Prince) are examples of exceptionally talented women who seamlessly wove their dedication to THP into the care of their own children. Now, as many parents of second generation volunteers are experiencing, their gift has double the impact as their children lend professional skills of their own to the operations of THP. 

"The Haitian Project was ever-present growing up, whether through visits from Patrick, penny drives at St. Ann School, or newsletters sitting in the mailbox,” Drew said. “My mom stressed its exceptional mission rather unexceptionally, as something that we had a responsibility to take part in rather than volunteer work that deserved applause. This responsibility stayed with me, making my decision to extend her involvement an easy one."