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Haiti Relief: Hurricane Matthew 2016

On October 4th, 2016, Hurricane Matthew became the first Category 4 storm to strike Haiti since 1964. A category 4 hurricane is classified as the second strongest storm with sustaining maximum winds of 130-156 mph. The aftermath left the death toll in Haiti to well over 800 people, 61,500 people in shelters, and severe damages to the infrastructure of water and sanitation.

Hurricane Matthew left Haiti in a state of disaster.

Sometimes numbers can seem overwhelming and leave us feeling helpless and unable to contribute to a solution. We can’t do everything, but together we can do something to make a difference.

Straight away Style Saves began collecting donations at Ishine365, a Miami- based boutique. We received an overwhelming amount of support throughout the weeks! The response was incredible.

We partnered with brands through shopping events with a percentage of proceeds benefitting this cause; brands include: Balenciaga, Miansai, Calypso, Capretto & Gee Beauty Studios. Additionally, we threw a Style Saves Halloween Party. We circulated flyers through our internal and external contacts encouraging people to donate supplies and funds through our website. Companies like MMG, the Setai, Metro1, and Miansai also hosted internal supply collections for Style Saves. 

Donations will be sent to several cities in Haiti: Kenscoff, Robin, Belle-fontaine, Fort Jacque, Platon Café and Camperain; one of the most devastated cities we will be visiting. The disaster relief organizations to which supplies will be donated to are MPKD, Ami de Jesus and Life Saver orphanage, Sohaderk, I MO Church, and MP3K. Medicine and first aid donations will be going to Hospital Bernard with Project Medishare.


Style Saves collected and packed 115 boxes filled with medical supplies, blankets, toiletries, and clothing-much of which was generously donated by GILT. We also collected 3 palettes of water, some of which was generously donated by Vitacoco! Thank you to everyone who spread the word, donated supplies and funds. We couldn't have done it without you. 

We can't wait to arrive in Haiti with this container of goods and hope that it will help our friends there rebuild their homes.

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STYLE SAVES GOES TO CUBA

STYLE SAVES GOES TO CUBA

On Wednesday, March 30th, a group of 21 volunteers, including artists, journalists, and communication experts, packed their bags and headed to Havana, Cuba with a mission to inspire and encourage young artistic minds. The trip, with stops at the Los Leopolditos orphanage and Academia de Ballas Artes San Alejandro, proved to be extremely rewarding for all participats, and has built insurmountable excitement for future Style Saves mission trips.

As the team arrived at the first destination at the Los Leopolditos orphanage right outside of Havana, 87 children from the ages of 6 to 12 years old eagerly shouted “Llegaron, llegaron!” (They’ve arrived!) as the Style Saves team pulled into the long driveway. The team unpacked their bags brimming with boxes of colored pencils, crayons, markers, play dough, coloring books and other art supplies for the children before being serenaded with a beautiful song by four fourth grade girls. As the day unfolded, the Style Saves team and the children enjoyed fun-filled activities, games, and arts and crafts. The children’s profound joy and appreciation made it almost impossible to say goodbye.

The next day, Style Saves visited the Academia de Ballas Artes San Alejandro to host fashion, social media, storytelling, photography, and performance art workshops for university students. Aileen Quintana, a Miami-based Cuban-American performance artist and Styles Saves team member, created a moving performance piece depicting how her parents left Havana to come to the United States. “It was an honor to give back to a country where my blood runs thick,” said Quintana. “Being able to inspire the children of San Alejandro and speak about the concepts and theoretical approaches on performance art was an incredible experience.”

 

Writer and producer Joan Caspi taught a True Stories Workshop. With the help of her daughter, Lindsay, Caspi highlighted the importance of compelling storytelling and provided students with essential tips from her personal experiences. “Sharing a true story with a roomful of strangers is a profound and deeply connective experience,” said Caspi. “From this one-day workshop, we collected the true stories of nearly 30 students. They can be heard on Wynwood Radio in both Spanish and English on “Voices from Cuba.” Amanda Harris, Director of Communications at EAST Hotel, led the social media workshop and showed students how social media can be a powerful tool to market artists and brands. “Being that technology is quite limited in Cuba, I had the students use their imaginations to create personal brand images and pretend Instagram profiles that they felt would be the best representation of their art if they were to have such a platform to do so,” said Harris. “In the end, I realized that the exercise we were doing was really no different than the world I was teaching them about. Social media is imaginary, and thanks to the imagination, the students were able to journey into a world of hope and empowerment.”

Cuban-American artist Alexander Mijares painted a beautiful and elaborate mural for the school, a project that was very close to his heart. “To visit and create where great Cuban masters, like my great uncle, painter Jose Mijares, studied was such a great honor,” said Mijares. “Working with the students to create the artwork gave me the chance to connect with them and build a special bond. It was all around was an unforgettable experience.”

Beautiful moments were shared throughout the trip, and the Style Saves team is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise with enthusiastic young minds. “Having the opportunity to bring 21 friends with art and fashion backgrounds to share their experiences with the students of Cuba was so special,” said Style Saves founder and president Rachael Russell.

Style Saves would like to thank Las Historiadoras for the very generous donation of printers and school supplies made to both Los Leopolditos orphanage and Academia de Ballas Artes San Alejandro. The team would also like to thank the Los Leopolditos orphanage, Academia de Bellas Artes San Alejandro director Sandra Fuentes, and professor and artist Rafael Villares for welcoming them with open arms and making them feel at home. Style Saves would also like to extend a very special thanks to all of the volunteers who made the trip a truly unforgettable experience. If you’d like to make a donation or become involved with a Style Saves mission trip, email info@stylesaves.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style Saves in Colombia

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Style Saves in Colombia

One of our give back initiatives took Style Saves overseas to Medellin, Colombia. Fellow Style Saves member Joseph Vega and I went down to Colombia for a weekend, where we arrange a give back event at a small orphanage. For years my family has supported the orphanage, Casa Hogar Nazareth, in Santa Elena, a tiny, mountain top town on the East side of Medellin. To get to Santa Elena, we have to schedule it in advance and map out our route since the ride will take us through some of the roughest parts of Medellin.

View of Santa Elena 

View of Santa Elena 

Once you we arrive at the orphanage, we’re greeted by Father Abraham, who runs the orphanage, teaches at a local school and is one of the most popular priests in Santa Elena. Father Abraham and the orphanage staff, which consists of 8 friars, care for 30 children ranging from ages 2 -16.

The orphanage isn’t like the orphanages you’d find stateside with private rooms and facilities. Casa Hogar Nazareth has been expanded gradually – when there’s money to buy brick and concrete – and includes a small chapel, library with dated, donated books and an open backyard.

Built into the hillside, Casa Hogar Nazareth has three floors, however most of them lack roofs and the windows are just open frames in the side of the building. After school, the children are taken to the library area where that can continue their studies and read some of the donated books. For entertainment, the children are allowed a maximum of 2 hours of movies, seen from a donated projector, before the projector burns out.

Boy at orphanage showing off art work.

Boy at orphanage showing off art work.

When we contact Father Abraham, he mentioned that the students, 24 males and 6 females, and friars were in dire need of shoes. Since our good friends over at BucketFeet and Toms donated new sneakers and school shoes for our back to school event, we were able to provide the students with 30 brand new pairs of shoes.

Children welcoming the Style Saves team to the orphanage. 

Children welcoming the Style Saves team to the orphanage. 

AGiven the chilly weather of Medellin, which is in the Antioquia valley of Colombia, we were also able to gift the students and friars with Galloway windbreakers, perfect for the unpredictable weather. 

In total, we were able to take four huge duffels with new and donated outfits including footwear, bags, clothes and accessories for all the boys and girls.

Girl at the orphanage playing in her new shoes 

Girl at the orphanage playing in her new shoes 

We’re thrilled to share how far our efforts have taken us and the ability we have to help children in need worldwide. To learn more about Casa Hogar Nazareth please feel free to contact me at: Jeffrey@StyleSaves.org

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