Sarasota Students Raise Funds to Build a Home in Haiti

Members of the Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) Prep middle school Interact Club selected the Haitian Health Foundation’s “Happier Houses in Haiti” program as their 2019 service project. Through fundraising at school, and with the support and assistance of the Southside Rotary club, SMA Prep Interact Club members and staff raised $1,950 for the HHF organization to construct a home for a family in Haiti.

The cadets raised money through several methods including paying to “dress down” at school instead of wearing the official Sarasota Military Academy uniform, selling “friendship grams,” participating in the Sarasota Music half-marathon run and placing collection cans in each middle school classroom. 

“This program is important because it provides shelter and protection from weather for people who can’t afford a home,” said Emily Brooks, a 6th grade cadet at Sarasota Military Academy and Interact Club member. “It makes me feel good because I am doing something for the community that will impact others.”

The new homes built through the program include updated features to the original “Happy House” design, created more than 20 years ago by the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF). Homes include a microflush toilet which flushes a small cup of water into a cement “digester” of soil and earthworms. Every two years, organically-rich compost is removed to use as fertilizer. The homes also feature a small solar panel for lighting and a radio, and a system for water collection with a basic filtration system providing water for cooking and drinking.

“My family has been involved with the HHF organization for several years, and we have personally sponsored five homes. I was proud to bring this project to Sarasota Military Academy Prep through the Interact Club,” said SMA-MAJ Carol Pelletier, Sarasota Military Academy Prep Language and Literature Instructor, Department Chair and Interact Club Facilitator. “In talking with Interact Club facilitators and our cadets, we found this project to be a great fit as our focus for the year. The students gave this project their all and ultimately, their hard work paid off, as we have learned that the home in Haiti may be completed as early as Fall 2019.”

The SMA Prep Interact Club is an extracurricular activity supported by the Sarasota Southside Rotary Club. Previous SMA Interact Club projects include making sensory bottles for a partnership with Easterseals Southwest Florida, puppy collars for Southeastern Guide Dogs, gift boxes for troops overseas and the Water for Sudan project where students raised funds to build a well in South Sudan. The SMA Prep Interact Club chapter was also recently awarded the Zone34 Interact Award through the Rotary Club partnership.

About Haitian Health Foundation
The mission of the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) is to improve the health and well-being of women, children, families and communities in the greater Jeremie region, through healthcare, education and community development. HHF serves over 250,000 poor and vulnerable people in the city of Jeremie and over 100 rural mountain villages. To learn more, visit our website at 

About Sarasota Military Academy
Founded in 2002, Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) is a public charter school, college preparatory academy and an accredited IB Diploma and Middle Years Programme (MYP) School with two campuses located in Sarasota, Florida. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multi-cultural and globalized world. Sarasota Military Academy High School is located at 801 N. Orange Avenue and Sarasota Military Academy Prep Middle School, is located at 3101 Bethel Lane. To learn more about SMA, visit

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