'Supernatural' Star Misha Collins and Fans Travel to Haiti
- Monday, July 18, 2011 6:19 PM
JACMEL, Haiti - Laura Prudom and about 2 dozen fans of CW TV's 'Supernatural' traveled to Jacmel, Haiti to do charity work. This is a excerpt of her experiences, documented at AOL TV
On June 20th, I was fortunate enough to embark upon the journey of a lifetime, masterminded by the staff of a charitable organization called Random Acts. The charity was co-founded by actor Misha Collins, who decided to harness the power of his 'Supernatural' fanbase to help make the world a better place, "one random act of kindness at a time."
The trip would take two dozen volunteers to the southern town of Jacmel, Haiti, to aid in the construction of a multipurpose community center and orphanage, designed to feed, educate and house some of Haiti's most impoverished and disadvantaged children. The construction efforts would utilize a portion of over $169,000 in donated funds raised entirely by the participants and other supportive 'Supernatural' fans in the three months prior to the trip.
I'm loath to simply call the 22 women who took a week out of their lives to travel to a disaster-stricken, developing nation "fans," although their appreciation for the CW series 'Supernatural' is arguably the common thread that brought them together. To label them so simplistically is to diminish their courage, their passion and their tenacity. For some, the trip to Haiti was the first time they'd ventured out of their home state, let alone their country.
Their ages ranged from late teens to their forties; their nationalities spanned the globe, from Russia to Britain, Germany to South Africa, America to Sweden; their professions encompassed students, doctors, writers and costume designers, some with volunteer experience, others starting fresh. None knew exactly what they were embarking on, what the conditions would be like once they reached Jacmel, nor how they would respond to working with children, yet everyone approached the adventure with an open mind.
Some knew rudimentary French, others downloaded iPhone apps to teach them Haitian Creole, others had to rely on the broken English of the locals. Though there were frayed tempers and occasional frustrations thanks to the hundred degree heat, each participant did their part and pushed themselves to their physical and mental limits (and in some cases, past them) to get the job done -- sound like a couple of fictional brothers we know?
"Part of the reason that I wanted to start Random Acts is because I saw, in the 'Supernatural' fan community, so much creative energy that goes into being a fan," Collins explained towards the end of our trip. "And if people can channel some of that energy into doing things like this, then we can make, I think, maybe a little bit more of a positive, profound impact on the world."
Collins and his fans had been involved in Haiti's disaster relief effort from the outset, after the actor tweeted a link for his followers to make donations to UNICEF, and they proceeded to raise over $30,000 in the space of two days.
"That got me thinking that we could maybe do things on an ongoing basis and expand our efforts," Collins mused, "And so Lisa Walker [with a background in grant writing and program development] and I started Random Acts."
Following the creation of the charity (which is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit with tax-exempt status), two of Collins' friends, Philip Schneider and Lisa Rueff, went to Haiti to help provide materials and transportation to students to start a construction school, founded and financed by Jacmel-based NGO ACDI VOCA. The trip was funded by a portion of the $84,000 in donations that Collins raised by running 52 miles in one day, and the construction school's first class trained 40 teenagers and young adults, both male and female, who had been orphaned in the earthquake.
"They brought 1,600 tools down [in their suitcases] because ACDI VOCA was having difficulty purchasing the materials in Port Au Prince, and the port was clogged up with months of delays. They furnished an entire graduating class with the tools that they need to have a career, and were instrumental in helping to start the school, as well as starting work on a nearby dental clinic," Collins recalled.
Read Laura's full article here.
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