Importations Guay’s Justin Guay talks of partnership with Streethearts charity to aid needy Haitians


The success of Streethearts has provided for a second centre, increasing the number of children from 75 to 122

Justin Guay, of Canadian retailer Importations Guay, has spoken of his partnership with Streethearts, a street youth shelter that aids young Haitians in need. 

Here, he describes his recent trip to Cap Haitian to continue his work with the shelter: “I met Streethearts through my running club, which hosts events and adventure tours all over the world. The goal of Streethearts is to provide shelter and a safe place for street youth in Cap Haitian.

“Linsey Jorgenson is from Virginia and she lives with the children on a full-time basis. When our running club met the Streethearts in 2014, we began by donating used running shoes, usually around 200 pairs per visit.

“After spending more time at the shelter, I determined that they still needed the basics, for example electricity, a fridge and a way to produce fresh food. Most of the children, if they are lucky, can find one meal of rice and beans per day. In order for them to remain at the shelter and receive these benefits, the children have to go to school, perform chores and do community service.

Streethearts provides shelter and a safe place for street youth in Cap Haitian, Haiti

“Thanks to many donors, a project focused on renewable energy has finally come to life. TFWA Care [a charitable initiative from Tax Free World Association - Ed] and their program sponsor Brown-Forman were the largest contributors to this initiative. In all, we have provided a little more than C$80,000 (US$60,000). I am also extremely proud to report that 100% of these funds went to benefiting the shelter and zero to administrative or other functions. 

“In addition to hydroponics and solar energy, we also clothed and provided tuition and school materials for all of the shelter residents for three years. The success of Streethearts and the boost that this project has given them has provided for a second centre, increasing their numbers from 75 to 122.

“I do believe that their future is looking a little brighter and I am very proud of the achievements that each child has made.

“Volunteers, including electricians, structural engineers and even a roboticist, helped to prepare the site and install the materials. The solar panels are now providing complete energy independence for two shelters.

“Two students from Memorial University, Emily Bland and Megan Meadus, accompanied me and spent two days teaching 122 children ages 7-18 how to grow their own vegetables out of a 4 feet x 2 feet box. Their project with Enactus called SucSeed manufactures state-of-the-art hydroponic systems made by at-risk youth in St John's, Newfoundland. The boxes are made from recycled materials. 

“Looking forward, I am hoping to return in February or March with my dentist, who has agreed to spend seven days treating as many people as he can. 

“Additionally, the first-ever Cap Haitian Marathon and adventure tour is in the works for 2018. I do believe that the influx of tourism will greatly benefit the city and expose more people to this country and the Streethearts program.”