Lending a hand

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Local organization plans relief mission to Haiti

By Roger Snodgrass

People in sympathy with the suffering people of Haiti in the wake of the devastation from the earthquake this week may wish to give some consideration to a local effort that has been providing permanent help in Port Au Prince since 2006.


Harold Salomon, executive director of he American Haitian Association for Medical, Economical and Educational Support (AHAMES), said Thursday that he is trying desperately to get information not only about his family there, but also about the staff of the organization’s facility.

“I was told there was not damage to the facility,” he said. “I was in touch with one of the doctors who was 40 miles away, who said the road was clogged with concrete.”

Updating the news this morning, he said he had learned that his aunt’s house has collapsed, and a cousin has died. He has no further word on the staff.

Salomon lives in Los Alamos and handles government contracts for 3M’s HYTEC-IMTEC, a private high technology company in Los Alamos. He has an MBA in finance from Rensseleer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. and has worked for a number of large companies in the United States.

After the four hurricanes — Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike — that swamped Haiti in 2008, Salomon said he was assisted in providing material support by Larry and Alice Thibault and the congregation of Mountain View Church.

He said the AHAMES facility has medical laboratory equipment including an X-ray machine and a blood analyzer. He has another X-ray machine and ultra-sound equipment ready to go. The facility includes a pharmacy and a clinic with a patient waiting room. The center provides a variety of specialized treatment and family medicine.

Salomon said he is organizing an earthquake medical relief mission from Los Alamos to Haiti next month to bring the additional medical supplies and equipment and to provide a working environment for additional volunteers who have asked to go with him.

“I think what he is doing is legitimate,” said Hugo Hinojosa, a former coworker at HYTEC. “I think it’s noble of him to be supporting his roots all this time and especially now. I knew he was working on it. He is very passionate about what he is doing.”

In an interview with the Monitor Thursday, Salomon provided a set of documents, including his certification for an IRS 501 (c)(3) in 2006 and a Guidestar

certification from 2007. Guidestar is a charitable verification organization.

“There are many big international organizations involved in the relief effort,” Salomon said, in an appeal for support for AHAMES, “but there is a need for smaller efforts to reach the people who fall through the cracks of the bureaucracies. We speak the language. Those are poor people. We know the neighborhood.”

In a press release Thursday, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King encouraged New Mexicans to donate to help fund disaster relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti but to do so with a certain amount of caution.

“There are many wonderful reputable charitable organizations already assisting the people of Haiti as they recover from this tragedy, but unfortunately there are groups and individuals who may try to take advantage of the situation to profit through fraudulent fundraising schemes,” Attorney General King said.

“Before making a donation,” adds the AG, “we encourage people to do a little homework on their selected charity or relief organization to ensure that their money is going to help those in need in Haiti.”

Specifically, King recommended making sure the charity is registered and filiing with the Attorney General’s Charities Unit. Registration and filing information can be obtained online at www.nmag.gov/office/Divisions/Civ/charity/CharitySearch or by calling the Attorney General’s Office toll free at 1-800-678-1508 and asking for the Charities Unit.

AHAMES is a listed on that list and Salomon encouraged people to visit the organization’s Web site at www.americahelp.org and consider making a donation.

He can be contacted by phone at 412-7051.