Hurricane Matthew devastated much of Haiti, including coffee farms, and Panther Coffee is asking for your help.
Earlier this month, Hurricane Matthew tempted many Florida and Southeast Coast residents with the possibility of making landfall. I was in Miami at the time, preparing for an interview that’ll appear in next month’s issue of this magazine, and watched the never-ending news cycle of weather predictions trying to figure out just where Hurricane Matthew would hit.
What most news outlets failed to mention is the amount of destruction the hurricane imparted already on many Caribbean countries, particularly Haiti. Hurricane Matthew is the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. The category four storm was responsible for over a thousand deaths and over a billion dollars in damage.
Coffee farmers in Haiti were not immune either, in particular the members of the Café Cocano cooperative in the Northwest region of Haiti, who have been working with Panther Coffee since 2011 to help build quality with the eventual goal of selling coffee to the specialty market in the U.S. œThe project involves our participation as quality control consultants in terms of coffee cultivation, processing, and ultimately as roaster and buyer. We have seen exponential improvements in their coffee quality through the five years we have been working together, says Leticia Ramos-Pollock, one of the owners of Panther Coffee. Unfortunately, this cooperative has seen major losses in their crops, and its unlikely that any of their coffee can be salvaged. Panther Coffee was introduced to the cooperative through St. Thomas University, and between 2011 and now, farmers have seen their average coffee sales go from 65 cents a pound to over four dollars per pound.
Panther Coffee will be hosting a fundraiser to help members of the cooperative and other Haitian residents that have been affected by the storm. Please join Panther on Saturday, October 22nd at their Wynwood location (2390 NW 2nd Avenue) to enjoy a night of music, art, and community building. There will be a silent action, and donations will also be accepted, which will all be used to help purchase supplies to rebuild the city of Port-de-Paix, where the Café Cocano cooperative is located.
Panther doesn’t normally hosts fundraisers or events like this, but the losses that this cooperative has suffered are too much to ignore. œWe understand that the intention to help those in need exists in most of us. The threats that our friends in Haiti face are insurmountable and so the only way to respond to these threats is to act, shares Leticia. Not only does this tragedy hit close to home to the coffee community in Miami, but it also affects the thousands of Miami residents who are of Haitian descent. œSouth Florida is home to over two hundred thousand Haitian residents, these are our customers, our friends, and our neighbors. Mutual respect for our community members comes with the genuine acknowledgement of this need in their homeland, says Leticia.
If you can’t make it to the event, there’s still ways you can donate and help. By clicking here, you can support the efforts of St. Thomas University to provide the following items essential for rebuilding:
1. Basic food staples (rice, beans, oil) to prevent starvation for the hundreds left without livelihoods.
2. Rebuilding supplies for immediate shelter, and to assist rebuilding of houses, schools and gathering spaces.
3. Sanitation materials to prevent an increase in cholera and other deadly diseases.
4. Replanting and agricultural supplies, to assist in long-term food security for the region.
If you live in the Miami area, you can swing by any Panther location anytime until Sunday, October 23rd, and donate money by writing a check. The checks should be written out to ˜St. Thomas University’ with ˜Haiti: COCANO Relief’ in the memo. You can donate by clicking this link. Panther plans on releasing a full transparency report on the Monday following the event detailing all the donors, donations, and funds raised. If you’d like to donate an auction item or have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you live outside of the Miami area, Panther will be able to help you connect with Amor en Accion and donate whatever you can give.