From Reno to Haiti

Philip Brown

Photo By kat kerlin

Philip Brown is planning a Help Haiti! fundraiser through Reno New Generations Rotary, for which he’s the social chair. The fundraiser will be held Sun., Feb. 28 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Great Basin Brewing Company, 846 Victorian Ave., in Sparks. $5 suggested donation includes a raffle ticket, and Great Basin is donating $1 from every pint participants drink. For more information, visit

I want to talk about Haiti,but first, what’s Reno New Generations?

It’s a new Rotary club—we were chartered in November of last year—of young professionals ranging from mid-20s to mid-40s. We’re more of a social group as opposed to a lot of groups who have meetings around lunch or breakfast. We’re a lot of people of younger age groups who want to get more directly involved in their community. Besides the group in La Jolla, we’re the second in the nation of our age group. Rotary has traditionally been for people more established in their careers or life and want to give back, but Rotary was missing what they thought was a key age group of young professionals. So instead of sitting down for lunch or breakfast we’re meeting at Sienna now, and we’ll be at Silver Peak later. We meet Monday nights; we have about a half hour where we sit and talk, get to know everyone, and then around 6 p.m., we start getting down to the type of things we’re doing.

It was your idea to do the Haiti fundraiser?

I don’t want to take full credit for it. When the disaster happened, there was that initial, “Oh my god, what do we do?” The great thing about Rotary is there’s a ton of people who want to do something but may not have the infrastructure to do it. Rotary has had an infrastructure for quite some time. Their donor-advised fund—the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund—its main goals are mid- to long-term goals in Haiti. Have you heard of a shelter box? We’re putting on this event to send money to the donor-advised fund, and they’ll make either direct donations to Rotary groups in Haiti or to other organizations like Haiti Outreach. They have three tiers: immediate relief, like donating water boxes and purification systems. Their sanitation is a main issue. The shelter boxes are kind of like a survival box—a tent, food, water, blankets; people’s homes were destroyed, so it’s giving them some shelter. Then the mid- to long-term, they’re building wells, latrines for sanitation—they built over 900 latrines so far. So Rotary has partnered with other organizations like Haiti Outreach. There are other organizations with established structures, as well, so this fund could donate to those organizations, too. It streamlines donations to where they see fit.

What can people expect at the fundraiser?

We have two bands playing: The Whitney Meyer Band and Jelly Bread. There will be food, drinks. We’re going to have a raffle and information there so people who donate can see exactly where it’s going toward. Ninety-nine percent of what’s donated will go directly to efforts in Haiti, so it’s a very efficient way to give money. You can have a direct impact from Reno to Haiti, have a good time and help out.

What were your impressions when the earthquake hit Haiti?

It’s just insult to injury. It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. There’s a 50 percent literacy rate. Only 2 percent of the population has public schools available. Then it’s a wake-up call when a disaster like this happened. They already didn’t have much, and what they did have got destroyed. So for me, I thought I had to do something. As small as it may be, every little bit helps. And being part of the Rotary Club, they have an infrastructure to do what we can and know they’ll use the money wisely, so all those things together brought this about for me.