This article is about Rony Delgarde, Haitian immigrant and Founder of Global Paint Charity. You may recognize his name from CNN Heroes a few years ago. Rony was a student here in Atlanta and worked in a hotel. He noticed how much soap was being thrown away, and literally went from hotel to hotel asking the management to save the unused soap for him to send back to Haiti. He took that platform--that soapbox, if you will--and explained to me (Deb Hunter) how he built new ways to help people here and around the globe ...
My transitional experience from the tough life of a new immigrant to become a college graduate, as a new U.S. citizen, a volunteer for CARE International, a private humanitarian aid organization, and now my charitable organization the Global Paint for Charity, I feel very grateful and blessed to be here especially in Atlanta, Georgia. But it's important, as immigrants living in the Diaspora, that we don't forget what we can do to help people back at home. It's not good enough for us to complain about what other people aren't doing for us. It's important that we all need to group and regroup together, to discuss ways to make a difference for those in need back at home and our community here.
For over a decade I have been living in Atlanta. I have been fortunate to meet many leaders and most prestigious organizations with their representatives from everywhere around the world, the Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, United Parcel Service and Home Depot to name a few . Over 300 international companies are choosing Atlanta their city as the "Nation’s Capital of Globalization." As the United States moves toward greater economy, I personally believe that Education, Technology, Transportation, and infrastructure will be the greatest challenges to maintain the fluctuation of the global effectiveness in Atlanta and other metro areas, particularly in the Southeast region where the recession has caused greater unemployment and falling product manufacturers and product suppliers.
Despite all of this, the South is moving toward the future with big international solutions for businesses. Just last month, I was greatly appreciated to be invited at the opening to the Atlanta’s new international terminal that's being named around the world as the city's "new front door" for the world. I was touched by the opportunity to hear that the world's busiest airport is in my city. As an international social entrepreneur, I feel like the world is closer and faster because Atlanta has become more global and it’s increasingly important to the global economy. It becomes easier to do business with some foreign markets such as Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean which are expected to be key drivers of the global growth in the coming decade. I personally think that Atlanta is really embracing the international population and making everyone feel very special. For instance, Delta Air Lines recently opens the first direct carrier service from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta to Port-Au-Prince Haiti. The flight is a major accomplishment for numerous NGOs passengers and the estimated 40,000 people of Haitian descent who live throughout the Atlanta area that are visiting the country since its earthquake that killed over 200 thousands of people and left millions homeless with the most divested infrastructure in the western-hemisphere.
This brings me back to the reality of how generous the leaders in the city are, they are always looking for random acts of kindness for people in needs no matter where they’re from, their culture, or their business background. And this is what led me to start the Global Paint for Charity. My idea was to collect discarded leftover paint whether it is here in Atlanta or somewhere in the U.S. or abroad and reprocess it and distribute it to individuals and families in developing countries around the World. What I have learned is that in Southeast, leaders want to contribute, to participate, to help solve everyday problems for innovation, social responsibility, sustainable community and global competitiveness, and that is our mission: Change lives, protect the environment and change the world with one gallon of paint at a time.
I've learned over the years that the most gratifying way to give back is to be selfless. It is the way that all of us can help our fellow citizens of the world....and that is the story of how GPC was born. At GPC We combine the ideas of environmental responsibility and philanthropy by collecting unwanted paint that could have been ended up into landfills than reprocess it and distribute to individuals and families in developing countries around the world. GPC works with the organizations every step of the way from forming partnership agreement for location sites to arranging free pickup and shipping of the paint items they collect and then distribute it. Our volunteers get the word out by asking people to donate their unwanted paint that were going to end up in the trash then into landfills. They collect that paint from households and businesses and recycle them at GPC. In the end, everyone wins!!!
While planning to continue to collaborate with the public, government officials, stakeholders, and businesses to promote greener initiatives, and expand our programs around the world, it is an honor to see our leaders here in the Southeast Region, demonstrate strong commitment toward renewable energy, education, the environment and economic development that echo the world solutions. I’m honored to be able to play a small bit of role in protecting of this great City “Atlanta”. And leftover paint is allowing me to contribute in a bigger way than I ever thought possible. Atlanta strongly boosts a practical balance between its economy and its leaders to promote global empowerment and a sustainable world. I’m still getting adjusted to this reality since my transition from Haiti to the United States, but everything is so amazing here in Atlanta.
Written by Rony Delgarde and Deb Hunter
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