Matt Abbatessa, shown with former President Jimmy Carter, hasÂ just returned from Haiti. Matt, a proud member of the Winthrop MixedÂ Lodge #2057, joined President and Mrs. Carter in Leogane, HaitiÂ volunteering for Habitat for Humanity’s 28th annual Jimmy and RosalynnÂ Carter Work Project.Â Matt, along with 400 volunteers from around the world and the U.S.Â helped to build 150 homes for earthquake affected families in LeoganeÂ near the epicenter of the Jan 12, 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake. TheseÂ houses are built to be hurricane proof and earthquake tolerant andÂ ultimately 500 families will be placed in homes that Habitat willÂ construct in this region.
“The devastation and oppression in Haiti is heartbreaking,” saidÂ Matt.” “On the 2 hour ride from the airport in Port-au-Prince, all weÂ saw were tarps and tents until we arrived at the work site in theÂ Santo community. These tents and tarps are the only housing theseÂ people currently have. We worked in difficult conditions of 95 degreeÂ heat with 100% humidity doing roofing, siding, framing, and allÂ aspects of construction. Many volunteers suffered from heatÂ exhaustion. The future owners of the houses worked along with theÂ volunteers putting in sweat equity as their contribution.”
“The volunteers and I slept in 10 man tents with 12 to a tent sleepingÂ on military cots and the food was very basic and simple. Some of theÂ volunteers were rookies, like I was, and some had been doing this forÂ many years, some as much as 27 years.”
“This was the most incredible experience I have ever had. There is noÂ way to describe the feelings of joy, accomplishment, fulfillment andÂ total exhaustion that comes with being involved with such a large andÂ worthwhile activity, “said Matt. Projects, such as this, give hope,Â stability and incentive to carry on for the recipients of these homes.
“I will do this again in another disadvantaged area. Once you haveÂ been involved, it is impossible to not do it again.”
“The generosity of my co-workers, friends, neighbors, family andÂ classmates was heartwarming. Their financial, as well as moralÂ support, helped me reach my goal. “Â “A special thanks to the Winthrop Mixed Lodge #2057 of the Sons ofÂ Italy for the generous donation that helped me meet my financialÂ pledge and commitment. Individual members of the Lodge also personallyÂ donated and attended the fund-raiser that was held to help meet myÂ commitment. You helped my dream become a reality.”