As Ben talks about the great energy behind connecting people and opportunities in the Corridor, I wouldlike to share with you a story about how the Corridor connected itself to the world- and in doing so,helped feed starving people in crisis, and aided sick and injured people by equipping a hospital when noother supplies could get into Haiti.After years of living overseas in New Zealand and owning a business I started there, you quickly learnhow to connect the dots in your world to make things happen and to figure out the ropes. My time inNew Zealand served me well later on, when on the state economic development board I had the chanceto put that experience into practice on many occasions. Over the course of time, some hard knocks andsome successes, you learn that the world is indeed a small place, and the most successful experiencesare usually brought together by the very things Iowans value- developing and nurturing relationships,and valuing
and maximizing- the connections we have with each other.My story is about Haiti, and some extraordinary work that went on in the days and weeks after theearthquake that happened fairly under the radar, but again, draws out what is the very best of thepeople in this area. I have never been more proud to be an Iowan than when I saw us mobilize andunite to get food aid in quickly to Haiti and to be among the first private success stories about gettingmedical supplies to Haiti in record time and with herculean effort.Within 36 hours after the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, a chance encounter with theGovernor led him to pose this challenge to me- Marcia, we are still working on our response to Haiti.
You’re always thinking internationally, if you have some ideas, please let me know.
I only got three blocks away from where I had just had this conversation when I stopped and realized Idid have an idea. Cedar Rapids was totally ready for this challenge- we knew in this community we had
enough food power to feed a country. Let’s see if we could
practice what we had been preaching.By the next morning, we had assembled local businesses- Ralston, Quaker, Diamond V, InternationalPaper, General Mills, Cargill, Worely Warehousing, and others such as the Red Cross and theChamber/P1. By the end of one week we had mobilized resources to secure 58 pallets of area food,literally thousands of pounds of food, and made very elaborate arrangements come together with Foodfor the Poor and Outreach International to get the food from CR-Miami- to Haiti. Our group continuedto meet in the days that followed that first shipment to work on other logistics related to shipping foodto Haiti, when I got a call from a Dr. Chris Buresh in Iowa City asking if he could join our meeting. Thatwas February 7
. I have saved his message on my voicemail because it was a day that changed my life. Ilove it every time I run through my old messages and stumble across his and push SAVE
and I smile. Onthat day we found out as our group sat at the Chamber planning food relief, that Chris had been going toHaiti for years, and he had just flown down to Haiti within days of the earthquake to begin preparationsto set up a MASH type hospital. He had been working night and day since the earthquake to securesupplies in order to return to continue building the hospital and suddenly found himself with multiple
filled storage units in Coralville. We looked around the table at each other and said, okay, let’s all agree
not to rest until we have figured out how to ship this hospital down to him.