The roots of the American Haitian Foundation evolved from Spirit of the St. Augustine Haiti Committee. Father Paul Valleroy and Jack Davidson made the first visit to Petite Rivera in June 1993. The first project was the school. Construction for the school began in January 1994, and took almost 5 years to build.
The Spirit of the St. Augustine Haiti Committee realized that a foundation was needed to help operate the school because of the size of the parish, and to find other sources of revenue. The application process started in 1998 immediately after the school was dedicated, but the American Haitian Foundation was founded in 2000. The same people that were on the Spirit of the St. Augustine Haiti Committee are now a part of the American Haitian Foundation.
The American Haitian Foundation hired a Haitian architect and employed over 500 people in the building process. The building of the school was also an adventure in education for many who learned the building trade. Almost every block the school was built with was made on site by people from the town of Petite Rivera. Sand was drawn from the rivers in the area. Tools were donated and purchased along with tons of bagged cement, rebar, plywood, etc. Everything we needed came from PAP or locally. Construction at the school is not quite finished. We have added a dormitory, cafeteria, biology lab, a six classroom kindergarten, and teacher residence quarters. At the time of dedication in 1998 the foundation had spent $400,000.00 for the school building. After the first floor was completed in September 1994, we welcomed our first students.
The school had approximately 250 to 300 students in the early years at the rectory, and first floor of CESA as construction continued. Each year as construction progressed, the school added more students. It contained approximately 8 to 10 teachers that made approximately $100.00 to $250.00 per month. Today, as before, teacher salaries are based on education levels attained and experience.
Upon the completion of the school in 1999, it became apparent that in order to operate the school, funds would have to come from more sources than just St. Augustine's parish and the St. Augustine Haiti Committee. Thus in 2000, the American Haitian Foundation was founded and is comprised of the members of the former St. Augustine Haiti Committee. We are now a 501c-3 non-profit organization.
The American Haitian Foundation is an exceptional steward of the donations it receives. For non-profit organizations, stewardship is measured by the ration of total expenses to total assets. The range for excellent performance is considered to be in maintaining total expenses within 3%-5% of total assets managed on an annual basis. The American Haitian Foundation's is only 2%.