Doug Doebler has made a difference in thousands of lives in Haiti by building homes there.
It’s not often that one person makes a difference in thousands of lives — but that is just what Newark resident and real estate broker Doug Doebler has done.
Doebler sold condominiums in Florida between 2005 and 2007, where he had the opportunity to meet Frank McKinney, a multi-million dollar real estate developer with a vision. McKinney felt as though developing housing for high-end earners offered him the unique chance to use his skills and contacts to create housing for those in poverty.
“When you strip it down, I am simply in the housing business, and felt I should be providing that most basic need to those who have no home,’ McKinney said on his website, www.CaringHouseProjectFoundation.com.
McKinney’s charity, the Caring House Project Foundation, began in 1998, purchasing run down houses and renovating them to supply the elderly homeless with shelter for $1 per month. While this is still a part of the charity’s work, in 2002 the foundation was granted non-profit status, and the vision expanded to international horizons.
“I met Frank McKinney down in Florida,” Doebler said. “And then took a trip with him in 2007, and kind of helped him raise funds through the years. He put me on his board of directors in 2010.”
Humble words to express what a key part Doebler has played in giving hope to thousands of the world’s poorest. Since 2003 CHPF has created over $3 million worth of self-sufficient villages in Haiti alone.
Doug has been to Haiti five times since 2007, each time as part of the charity’s unique approach to attracting benefactors.
“The CHPF does fundraising usually twice a year,” Doug said. “People get interested and then they come to Haiti with us. The last trip we did in February 2011, I organized from a group of millionaire businessmen...some of them had been donors in the past so we wanted to show them the houses and villages that their funds had built, and some of them were prospective new donors which we were trying to impress with the work we do in Haiti.”
Each donor paid $5,000 for the trip, half of which went directly into building new houses for those in Haiti who otherwise live on the streets or in shacks made up of mud, sticks, and often garbage.
“Those trips are pretty interesting,” he said. “The thing that shocks people the most is that the poorest location in the western hemisphere, which is Haiti, is only a 2 hour flight from Miami. It’s not that far away. The last trip we took them to Port Au Prince, where the earthquake did so much damage. When the kids come up to you and rub their bellies or touch their lips telling you that they’re hungry, begging for food, that’s pretty tough to see. Much of the devastation is still like it was.”
The Foundation’s mission is simple.
“Our whole model is built on trying to help people become self-sufficient,” Doug said.
The charity builds simple housing, schools, and community centers. They create agricultural programs such as fishing cooperatives, goat breeding, chicken coops, and fruit tree planting, and provide clean water systems and generators for electricity.
And they don’t stop there.
The Caring House Project Foundation ensures that while the fundraising and office work takes place in America, all of the supplies and workforce are sourced from the area local to the current project, not only providing the means for a new life for hundreds at a time, but also putting money back into their local economy.
To accomplish such a huge task from far away, Doug said they raise funds in the U.S.
“Our goal is to raise $1 million a year, so we’re a pretty good sized charity,” he said. “And then we work with established groups that are based in Haiti, and that’s who we fund whether we’re building houses, or after the cholera epidemic we sent a couple of hundred water purification systems, after the earthquake we sent rice and beans, tents and supplies, and things like that. But you have to have a partner in Haiti to really accomplish anything.”