One of my favorite things about The Smile Project is the opportunity to meet and connect with other social entrepreneurs. Through a nonprofit Facebook group, I connected to Nohemie Pascal, the Co-Founder of 4HNYC, Inc. located in none other than New York City! I’m continually amazed at how the powers of the internet introduce me to other nonprofit professionals living and working in my backyard.
Without further ado, allow me to introduce their project!
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”
Nohemie: Happiness is found in the journey, not necessarily the destination. Happiness truly resides within oneself. Often times, I think people confuse that and look for happiness in the wrong places such as a friend, spouse, job, wealth, etc. Happiness is an inside job, once you’ve found it within yourself, you’ll then exude it... it’s contagious! Your family, friends and surroundings will be affected by it as well.
Liz: What is your project/organization?
Nohemie: 4HNYC Inc. is a non-profit organization compassionately dedicated to improving the lives of poor children throughout Haiti and supporting their academic success. Established in New York City in 2012, a group of concerned young professionals in the tri-state area believed through educating the Haitian youth, influential results can be made to develop the country economically.
For the past 6 years, we have supported The Children of Haiti Project in Port au Prince, Haiti by donating school supplies through your support in online giving and through our annual Helping Haiti Happy Hour. This year, we plan to help support the school in opening their first science lab! We hope this lab will be a space to introduce students to the fundamentals of science, teach students basic problem-solving principles, teach students how to understand and analyze information, and enable students to be be competitive in a world filled with science and technology.
Our goal is to raise $8,000 for tools and equipment to create a classroom for 150 children. Types of equipment include beaker tongs, beakers, test tubes, wash bottles, funnels and more. The monies from these donations will also cover costs for shipping items to the school. For more information on our project, visit our website. We also have a CrowdRise.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Nohemie: Honestly, there’s nothing more gratifying than knowing that you’re giving children a sense of hope, providing with them educational tools- a fighting chance to excel and reach above their circumstances. I’ve always been super passionate about education and my love for Haiti. I just happened to intertwine the two. And you know, Liz, as much as my organization tries to be a blessing in these children’s lives, they are equally if not more of a blessing in our lives. As a result of meeting these beautiful young scholars so eager to learn despite having to walk over an hour to school and not having running water or even electricity- they are happy. These past seven years, I’ve learned so much from them and incorporated in my daily life.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Nohemie: Service means to me, giving back wholeheartedly, making an influential impact whether it be minute or large, just knowing that you left your footprints somewhere, that’s service. And essentially, that’s what life’s about. Changing the world.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Nohemie: 4HNYC hosts an annual happy hour on Haitian Flag Day, geared to raising funds to supply book bags with school supplies for students. That’s literally around the corner happening May 17th in New York, NY. However, for those not able to attend, we encourage you to make a donation via our website. You can also follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook. To make donations please click here.
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Nohemie: We are only getting started and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for 4HNYC as we continue to expand. This philanthropy journey is not easy. Sometimes you’ll have high moments when you’re extremely proud and happy of your accomplishments. Other times you’ll reach roadblocks and cry (yes, I’ve shed many tears). The only thing that stays consistent is not giving up and seeing the bigger picture. Knowing that at the end of these projects that we would have placed smiles on hundreds of children’s faces makes it worthwhile.
Liz: Favorite quote/piece of advice
Nohemie: “Failure is no longer a fear, unfulfilled potential is.” Whatever it is that you keep putting on a back burner, DO IT! Life’s too short to not take those risks.