Co-chair of Berkeley emergency relief fund found safe

January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Late on Wednesday, an East Bay family with loved ones in Haiti got the news they were desperately awaiting for -- that everyone is safe. However, that does not mean they are in a hurry to get home.

Walter Riley is the co-chair of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund in Berkeley. He and his family went there to help the people, before the earthquake had struck and now they really have their work cut out for them.

As images of the devastating Haiti earthquake flashed on the T.V. the family of Barbara Rhine, Walter Riley ,and their daughter Selena, who are in Haiti, were waiting anxiously for any word on their fate. They finally got a call late Wednesday afternoon.

"We're good. We found out they're okay, so we're all right," said Demi Rhine, Walter's daughter.

The intense family gathering in Oakland, had some family members reevaluating themselves.

"People wait until it's their turn to act or to get involved," says Manuel Riley, Walter's son.

Now Manuel has a new perspective after worrying about his father, step mother and step sister. He wants to make a difference after he is now realizing that it is his turn.

The family members initially whet to Haiti, before the quake, because Walter is a co-chair for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund in Berkeley. The small non-profit, which funds education and medical supplies, is now taking donations.

"So I was calling just to ascertain whether or not your corporation might be interest in providing us with donation? ... You would?" said Darwin Malloy, a volunteer on the phone.

They need volunteers to help coordinate the rush of people who want to help.

"Well, I'm trying to do some connections, but I don't have all the answers, so we're working on outreaching as far as possible," says Sister Maureen Duignan from the East Bay Sanctuary.

"I'm numb frankly about it, and I many times I said 'Am I living a nightmare? Am I going to wake up from this?'" says Pierre Labossiere from the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.

Labossiere is a board member who is still waiting to hear from his family members in Haiti. Even before the quake, he says Haiti suffered from a history of past dictatorships.

"When you're working so hard all you are getting is more misery. You can't send your child to school, you can't eat properly," says Labossiere.

Now the non-profit is overwhelmed with other organizations that want to help like firefighters, business organizations, and other non-profits.

However, they do need volunteers to help coordinate. If you are interested in finding out more click here.


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