January 13th, 2010 5:33 pm | by India Nicholas News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

A Portland Family's Haiti Story And How You Can Help


For the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who want to get out of their devastated country today, here is a local Portland couple who wants to get in.

Bagel Land has been a breakfast staple to the Northeast Fremont community for more than 30 years. Its owners, Bernard and Jackie Férère, are most often the ones that are take your order and toast your Cheddar Garlic for you. On the weekends, their two children join them behind the counter. After two visits, they'll know your face. And after five, they'll know your name, your job, and how you take your bagel. It is, without a doubt, a family business. And what a family it is.

Bernard, who's from Haiti, has worked since 2005 with the Haitian and Caribbean American Organization of Texas, a non-profit co-founded by his brother. HACAOT advocates for, and educates, the Haitian community in the United States on housing and labor laws. Bagel Land's standard tip jar is a donation box for HACAOT, and the eatery's walls are covered with maps of Haiti and homemade posters about the poor country (Haiti is consistently cited as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with a GDP per capita of about $2 per person, per day in 2009.)

Back in late 2008, Bernard and Jackie put Bagel Land up for sale with hopes to move their family down to the Caribbean and devote themselves full time to making Haiti a better place. Unfortunately, the financial crisis and recession put their dreams on hold. Now, it seems the earthquake will provide another major roadblock. In a statement this morning, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said basic services in Haiti “such as water [and] electricity have collapsed almost entirely,” and that there is “no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required.

We've got calls out to the family, which obviously has a lot on its plate today. But if you're looking for a way to help Haiti, please bring your cash donations for HACAOT to Bagel Land at 4118 NE Fremont. To write a check, or to get more information, visit the HACAOT website.

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