Boston Irish Team Up to Help Haiti Orphans

Ed Forry

A large group of Bostonians of Irish heritage, chaired by Winnie Henry of Milton and Pat "Doc" Walsh of Dorchester, gathered with friends on Sun., May 2, to raise funds to support relief efforts for Haitian children orphaned by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.

Organizing as "Irish Hearts for Haiti Committee," a group of more than 30 Irish-born and Irish Americans had been meeting for months to make plans for the event at the Quincy Marriott Hotel. Working with her family and the committee, Winnie, the widow of Irish music legend Noel Henry, organized a very successful day of continuous Irish music and entertainment at the hotel from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event featured the music of many of Boston's leading Irish musicians, including Erin's Melody with Margaret Dalton, the Andy Healy Band, Noel Henry's Irish Showband, Fintan Stanley, John Connors & the Irish Express, and Larry Reynolds and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eíreann. There was also a silent auction and raffle prizes.

The organizers promised and pulled off a festive day-long event with music, dance and "no speeches," with all proceeds going to provide some measure of relief to suffering children in Haiti.

In a statement, the organizers gave the reason for their activities: "With over half of Haiti's population under the age of 18, a disproportionate number of children are exposed to disease, death, and suffering. This was the grim reality before the earthquake. Now, there are estimates that over one million children will be orphaned and without urgent healthcare.

"Supporting agencies who provide care to the children of Haiti is the aim of the first Annual Benefit Dance for Haiti: From the hearts of the Irish to our brothers and sisters in Haiti. With your support, financial and volunteer services will be provided to orphaned and abandoned children through the organization of Friends of the Orphans: Nos Petit Frères et Soeurs (NFPS- French for "Our Little Brothers and Sisters").

"The work of NPFS is critically important, as access to healthcare is basically non-existent. Through their pediatric hospital, St. Damien, free medical services, including surgery and physical therapy, will be provided in addition to other outreach programs providing food, water, education, and assistance for the disabled." Friends of the Orphans is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, Federal Tax ID# 65-1229309, that meets all 20 BBB Charity Standards. Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Several Irish media outlets participated as sponsors of the event, including 950 AM WROL, The Irish Emigrant, the Boston Herald, the Dorchester and Mattapan Reporter newspapers and the Boston Irish Reporter. Other business sponsors include Marriott Boston Quincy and the Courier Corporation.

Library Death Squads?

Geneology researchers are sounding the alert about draconian cutbacks in library services Boston Public Library. Last month, the trustees revealed plans to close four branch libraries. Now the board is said to be making plans to dismantle the print-based library services in favor of digital publications for computer users. The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) has sounded an alert about "planned cutbacks in the premiere resource in Massachusetts for modern newspapers and for papers outside of Massachusetts." In an e-mail, Barbara Mathews, President of MGC, wrote: "ALERT: The Microtext Department and Newspaper Room at the Boston Public Library are in danger of being closed and their resources distributed to alternate locations within AND outside of the Central Library in Copley Square.... it appears that the Microtext Department and Newspaper Room at the Boston Public Library are slated to be closed."

She concluded, "The Boston Public Library Annual Meeting will be held Tues., May 11, at 8:30 a.m. at the Copley Square Library. Let's let our voices be heard and make an impact now before that important meeting."