Matt Abbatessa, shown with former President Jimmy Carter, has just returned from Haiti. Matt, a proud member of the Winthrop Mixed Lodge #2057, joined President and Mrs. Carter in Leogane, Haiti volunteering for Habitat for Humanity’s 28th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Matt, along with 400 volunteers from around the world and the U.S. helped to build 150 homes for earthquake affected families in Leogane near the epicenter of the Jan 12, 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake. These houses are built to be hurricane proof and earthquake tolerant and ultimately 500 families will be placed in homes that Habitat will construct in this region.
“The devastation and oppression in Haiti is heartbreaking,” said Matt.” “On the 2 hour ride from the airport in Port-au-Prince, all we saw were tarps and tents until we arrived at the work site in the Santo community. These tents and tarps are the only housing these people currently have. We worked in difficult conditions of 95 degree heat with 100% humidity doing roofing, siding, framing, and all aspects of construction. Many volunteers suffered from heat exhaustion. The future owners of the houses worked along with the volunteers putting in sweat equity as their contribution.”
“The volunteers and I slept in 10 man tents with 12 to a tent sleeping on military cots and the food was very basic and simple. Some of the volunteers were rookies, like I was, and some had been doing this for many years, some as much as 27 years.”
“This was the most incredible experience I have ever had. There is no way to describe the feelings of joy, accomplishment, fulfillment and total exhaustion that comes with being involved with such a large and worthwhile activity, “said Matt. Projects, such as this, give hope, stability and incentive to carry on for the recipients of these homes.
“I will do this again in another disadvantaged area. Once you have been involved, it is impossible to not do it again.”
“The generosity of my co-workers, friends, neighbors, family and classmates was heartwarming. Their financial, as well as moral support, helped me reach my goal. ” “A special thanks to the Winthrop Mixed Lodge #2057 of the Sons of Italy for the generous donation that helped me meet my financial pledge and commitment. Individual members of the Lodge also personally donated and attended the fund-raiser that was held to help meet my commitment. You helped my dream become a reality.”