When Wells Mountain Foundation was founded in 2005, almost immediately Tom Wells began to work with Gwenael Apollon, the Executive Director of the YMCA d’ Haiti, to help in the efforts to expand this YMCA from a single branch in Port-au-Prince to its present ten branches. Tom, who likes to refer to Gwenael as his “Haitian brother,” had already been working with Gwenael in Tom’s capacity of chairman of the World Service committee of the Ridgewood, New Jersey, YMCA.
Some special moments for WMF along the way include the opening in 2008 of the first Kenscoff “Mountain Wells” branch as well as its “Bibliotheque Carol Wells” named in her honor, and the opening of the first Container YMCA Community Center in Laboule in January, 2012. No less significant, however, has been the establishment of four more Container YMCA Community Centers since then, in Croix des Bouquets, Marchand-Desslaines, Caracol, and in 2016 near Les Cayes.
Tom likes to remember that these unique and special community centers were actually born out of the tragedy of the 2010 earthquake. WMF’s efforts to gather and send clothes to help the Haitian people was “accidentally too successful” resulting in an astounding 12 shipping containers of clothes and supplies sent to Haiti. The empty containers formed the impetus of what has become such a successful building program. By combining the unique design of architect Phil Wells and the efforts over the years of more than 45 construction volunteers from the United States, with financial contributions from the Wells Mountain Foundation and the Bolger Foundation and the vision of Tom and Gwenael, this magic happened.
Tom Wells has made more than 25 trips to Haiti since the first trip in 2001. For the last three years, he has added to these trips to attend meetings of the board of directors of the YMCA d’ Haiti on which he has the honor to serve as one of two non-Haitian members. By providing sincere support from abroad to those on the ground “doing the work,” the Wells Mountain Foundation has accomplished much of which to be proud.
To see an overview of the WMF Haiti project, download the Haiti Container Project Storyboard below: