Making a Difference in the Life of a Child.
Haitian Children

"Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, the poor and powerless, you do to me" (Mt. 25,40).

Universities Making a Difference

The students, facility and/or staff of these institutions of higher learning have raised funds and/or provided assistance for the children and staff at Maison Fortuné Orphanage.  Sometimes the assistance has been from individuals in the name of their school.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA has been involved with Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation and the Orphanage in several ways.  Professors at Old Dominion (ODU) School of Business have been consulting with the Foundation President, Chip Wirth, concerning curriculum for long distance learning in conjunction with the McKenna Technical Center (Trade School) being designed for construction next to the orphanage campus.

When the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010, the ODU School of Business professors and students raised almost $700 to help with the extra costs from adding over 75 additional Port-au-Prince orphans to the orphanage population.

Steve Risch, Director of International Admissions has worked with the Foundation Executive Director to have one orphanage resident admitted to ODU for the Spring 2011 semester.  This was needed because the earthquake devastated the Haiti University system, making studying in Haiti a difficult proposition for a while.  The resident will be studying business and will return to the orphanage upon graduation to assist the Orphanage Director, Lefort Jean-Louis in running the Haitian operation.  And an Engineering Professor has volunteered to serve as a campus mentor to this student. 

For more information on Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, please visit their web site at

Dartmouth College

Student's from Dartmouth College have an active relationship with the Orphanage, most recently developing a project for summer 2012 to work with students on english language skills, especially for the technical trades. See their proposal here.

Penn State University

Project Haiti is a student run organization operating out of Penn State University’s Catholic Campus Ministry. Founded in 1997 by Father Fred Byrne, O.S.B., it is an effort to make Penn State students more personally aware of the economic disparity that exists between those living in the United States and those living in developing countries. Although the center of this group is within the Catholic Campus Ministry, the membership consists of students from all backgrounds.

Project Haiti’s mission is to raise funds and awareness for Haiti, and to travel to Haiti to be in solidarity with the Haitian people. The students live, work, and play alongside the Haitians, learn about their plight and then try to give the Haitians a “voice” when the students return to Penn State.

Each spring a group of about twenty Penn State students travel to Haiti. From 1997 to 2006 Penn State Project Haiti was most directly partnered with the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Incarnation in Pandiassou, Haiti. Starting in 2007 Project Haiti established new partnerships with the Maison Fortune Orphanage and village of Jacksonville. After graduation, many of the Project Haiti Alumni have participated in volunteer programs serving with the poor and marginalized in many communities in the United States and internationally. A half dozen of these alumni have volunteered in Haiti with the Xaverian Brothers and Louverture-Cleary School in Port-au-Prince.

Those who have served as Xaverian Volunteers at Maison Fortune include Jonathan Dohanich, Chris Roberson, Tom Onuska, Mike McGeehin and Greg Mason. Elizabeth Guertin Mason served at Louverture-Cleary as a volunteer for two years. All are still active, in their respective communities, supporting Maison Fortune Orphanage by raising funds and spreading the word about the good work being done at the orphanage.

Since it was founded in 1997, Project Haiti has been blessed to be able to raise over $275,000 for various grass roots organizations in Haiti including the Little Sisters and Brothers of the Incarnation, Maison Fortune Orphanage, and Partners in Health. The annual fundraisers include pushing wheelchairs and selling programs at home football games, flower sales, spaghetti dinners, and speaking engagements at various parishes in Pennsylvania.

During the 2010-11 year, the amount donated to the Maison Fortune Orphanage through April, 2011 was $8,820.55.

More information on Penn State's Project Haiti.

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall

David Peterson, a Campus Minister at Seton Hall University, volunteered at Maison Fortune Orphanage from 2002-2003. With the Division of Volunteer Efforts' (DOVE) immersion experiences at Seton Hall, he became involved as a team leader for several trips to El Salvador. When DOVE was looking to expand its efforts, David coordinated the connection between the Orphanage (MFO) and Seton Hall.

To date, Seton Hall students have participated in three trips to Haiti, and two more are being planned for this year. DOVE's service trips have always emphasized the importance of presence; the aim is to listen to and learn from the people they encounter, rather than brining their own goals and expectations with them. David said, “Jean Louis, the Xaverian Bothers, and the children have always been incredible hosts, who share their homes and stories with us, and who educate us on their daily struggles. During our last trip in May 2010, we were profoundly shaken by the destruction of the earthquake, and are committed to remain involved in the rebuilding of this beautiful country”.

Seton Hall's 58-acre campus is located only 14 miles from Manhattan in the quaint town of South Orange, New Jersey. The University is home to eight schools, over 60 majors and about 10,000 students. For more information, please visit the school web site at

Eastern Virginia Medical School

Seton Hall

Monday evening, March 15, 2010, Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia  conducted a Haiti Awareness Night.  The purpose was to present the medical students real stories of how others have “Given Back” using the recent earthquake crisis in Haiti as an example.  Doctors from different disciplines and a volunteer from Operation Smile made presentations to the assembled students and facility.  However, the students demonstrated that they had already learned the lesson because they presented a check in the amount of $3,150 to Art Mowbray, Masion Fortuné Orphanage Foundation Executive Director.  The money was raised by the students from Haiti T-Shirt sales and collecting donations from students and facility.  A sincere thank you to Dr. Terri Babineau of EVMS for including the Orphanage and Foundation in the proceedings of that evening.  And from the residents and students at Maison Fortuné Orphanage in Hinche, Haiti, many thanks to the students at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia for their interest, concern and generosity.

Some of the medical students mentor children at James Monroe Elementary School in Norfolk, VA.  When they heard that the EVMS students were raising funds for Haiti relief, the James Monroe students wanted to follow their mentors and raise funds too.  When the James Monroe students had to decide where to send the funds raised, they again followed the example of their mentors and decided to give it to the Maison Fortuné Orphanage in Hinche, Haiti.  It is a graphic demonstration of the impact that our actions have on the influential young people in our lives. 

Eastern Virginia Medical School is located in Norfolk, Virginia.  To learn more about the school, visit their web site at

Stony Brook University

After the January 12, 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, severely damaging Port-au-Prince, as well as other areas, the staff of Campus Residences at Stony Brook University were moved to action and immediately began discussing ways to raise funds to assist the children of Haiti in a meaningful way.  Setting a long-term goal of $15,000, Campus Residences put together a variety of creative and unique events that raised over $2400 for the Maison Fortune Orphanage during the Spring 2010 semester.

With the help of local restaurants, a portion of each bill during “Dining to Donate” went toward this effort.  “Wear Jeans, Save Lives” was a program which asked employees across the division to donate $5 in exchange for the right to wear jeans to work on one particular Friday. During Valentine’s Day season the department ran two programs: “Have a Heart” and a candy sale.  The “Have a Heart” program involved a wall decorated with paper hearts the staff could purchase for the orphanage. We also held a raffle and a donation box was set up in the office, so people could make additional donations.  Finally, a basketball tournament called “Hoops for Haiti” raised additional funds.

Even though the earthquake shook Haiti 7 months ago, the Campus Residence staff at Stony Brook University is continuing its commitment to the Maison Fortune Orphanage.  As the new academic year approaches they are looking into new ways to raise funds and awareness for the children of Haiti.

Stony Brook University was established in 1957 as a college for the preparation of secondary school teachers of mathematics and science; the first campus was located at Oyster Bay, Long Island, on the grounds of a former Gold Coast estate.  In 1962, a new campus was built in Stony Brook, on land donated by local philanthropist Ward Melville.  As part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook currently encompasses 123 buildings on 1,100 acres.  In the nearly fifty years since its founding, the University has grown tremendously, and is now recognized as one of the nation’s important centers of learning and scholarship—carrying out the mandate given by the State Board of Regents in 1960 to become a university that would “stand with the finest in the country.”

Stony Brook University ranks in the top 1 percent of all universities in the world.  The London Times Higher Education Supplement placed Stony Brook 127 among more than 12,000 universities worldwide, and in the top 50 in North America.  Among science universities, Stony Brook ranks in the top 100 in the world, top 25 in North America, and top 10 among public universities.  Stony Brook has been ranked in the top 100 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report and included on their list of notable programs for undergraduate research/creative projects.

Stony Brook is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, the invitation-only organization of the best research universities in the country.  With one of the lowest tuitions in the country, Stony Brook has been listed as one of just 40 public and private universities in the country named a "Best Buy" by Fiske Guide to Colleges.  The University offers 61 undergraduate majors and 68 minors, 102 master’s programs, 40 doctoral programs, and 32 graduate certificate programs.  Ten doctoral programs are ranked in the top 40 nationwide, with two in the top ten and four in the top 20.  Stony Brook is one of ten universities given a National Science Foundation recognition award for integrating research and education.

Close by the historic village of Stony Brook at the geographic midpoint of Long Island, the University campus lies about 60 miles east of Manhattan and 60 miles west of Montauk Point.  It is only a short distance to the beaches at Fire Island, the elegant resorts of the Hamptons, and the vineyards of the East End. The internationally recognized research facilities of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are nearby.  Stony Brook can be found on the web at 

Randolph Macon College

In January 2008, Dr. Ben Burrell, chair of the Computer Science Department at Randolph-Macon College led a team of faculty and students to Maison Fortune Orphanage.  Their mission was to give  computer workshops to the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at the school and also to the boys attending secondary school in town.  Again in 2009 during R-MC's “January Term”, Dr. Burrell led the team back to the orphanage.  Everyone believes it to be very important to the overall education of the children that they learn computer skills. Obviously, the trips will help the Maison Fortune residents and the students from Hinche as they move into higher levels of education.

Ben Burrell of the IT Department planned to return to the orphanage on January 14th, 2010.  However a major earthquake struck the island 2 days earlier and American Airlines had to cancel all flights.  The team plans to return again in January, 2011.

Randolph-Macon College is located in Ashland, Virginia.  To learn more about the school, visit their web site at

Carleton University

Learners for Life started out as a class assignment at Carleton University that required us to identify an issue or problem in a foreign country and theories about creating an organisation that would help improve the social progress in the specific area. After choosing to focus on Haitian orphans, and after thorough research and planning, we decided that something needed to be done to help the children, so we took an additional step and decided to actually bring the organization to life.

Learners for Life was created in order to help Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation by raising funds to help contribute and make a difference in the lives of the many orphans who are in need. The organisation is comprised of four official members: Paul Montsion (Public Relations), Ellyse Gallant (Human Resources), Geneviève Colverson (Governance/management), and Annie Hussain (Finance). We are currently working towards getting a non-profit incorporation and we plan on continuing our support for Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation.

For now, we have a facebook group called “Learners for Life” where you can check up on what is going on within our organization. If you have any questions or concerns, you can also contact us via e-mail at We hope to make a valuable contribution in the lives and futures of the orphans in Haiti.

Virginia Commonwealth University

VCUThanks to the initiative of Dr. George Kasper, a member of the Foundation’s Development & Marketing Committee, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Integrated Marketing Communications course this summer (2010), taught by Dr. Kiersten Maryott, took on the Foundation as their class campaign project.  The Foundation’s product was the orphanage.  Organized into four teams, these Business School students presented at the end of the course four different campaign proposals for the “marketing” of Maison Fortuné.

The Foundation’s Development & Marketing Committee will be discussing these projects, with the hope of implementing some of the student’s suggestions.  Several of the recommendations focused on the potential of using the “social media” – something we look forward to doing.

UPDATE! UPDATE! Marketing majors put their marketing and social media savvy to work for a Haitian school and orphanage.

Virginia Commonwealth University is located in Richmond, VA, offering more than 200 degree programs, 65 of which are unique in Virginia.  One of the nation’s top research universities, VCU enrolls more than 32,000 students on two Richmond campuses - Monroe Park Campus and the MCV Campus.  The VCU Medical Center, including the university’s health sciences schools, offers state-of-the-art care in more than 200 speciality areas and serves as the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center.  To learn more about the school, visit their web site at

To find out how you can help and add your school to this growing list of “Universities Making A Difference”, please email the Executive Director of Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation. The email address is: