Stray Dog Designs Travels to Haiti to Give Cash and Hope to Workers

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Last month, Stray Dog Designs founding partner Billy Pritchard traveled to Haiti and put over $10,000 in cash directly into the hands of the workers there who make papier mache products for the company.

Last month, Stray Dog Designs founding partner Billy Pritchard traveled to Haiti and put over $10,000 in cash directly into the hands of the workers there who make papier mache products for the company. Virtually all the workers lost housing, possessions, or family members in the devastating January 12th earthquake. The money was donated from customers and friends of Stray Dog Designs, then matched 50 cents on the dollar by the Chattanooga-based company that designs home furnishings and has them made in parts of the world that need sustainable, family wage jobs. The balance of the money collected, about $2000, will be put into a tuition fund for the workers’ children.

Stray Dog Designs works with over 150 workers in Haiti who make its papier mache lamps and home accessories by hand. Immediately after the earthquake the company established the Stray Dog Designs Haitian Worker Relief Fund. Because of stories heard from friends who had been through Hurricane Katrina, the company decided that the quickest relief would be achieved by putting cash directly into the hands of the people who needed it. So rather than contribute to established and excellent charities like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, Stray Dog Designs decided to continue to aid those people who it had gone to Haiti to help in the first place – the artisans.

On Wednesday, April 21st, Billy and fellow Chattanoogan Alan Clark flew to Haiti laden with cash, goodwill, and no idea what they might encounter there. While visiting the compound where Stray Dog Designs workers had been living in tents and working under trees since the earthquake, they handed out envelopes of cash to workers and were met with broad grins, shy smiles, hugs, heartfelt handshakes, and most often, tears.

“Giving the money out was emotional. They were absolutely so appreciative, and wanted to thank the donors,” said Pritchard. “I explained that our clients had started calling the day after the earthquake to ask what they could do for our workers – that they had forged a direct relationship to our clients through art…their art.”

“One woman said, through her tears, that she would use her money to buy blood pressure equipment for her husband which he hadn’t had access to since the earthquake,” added Pritchard. “Another showed me her glasses – two scratched lenses held together by duct tape -- and said the first thing she would do was get glasses.”

Almost 200 envelopes were given out to the workers. Most held the equivalent of one month’s salary, and for those at the heart and soul of our production in Haiti, the equivalent of three month’s salary.

Afterwards, Billy and Alan, an engineer who was there putting his building inspection expertise to use, toured the devastation all over Haiti. They saw people living in tents on every available piece of land since January– in parks, soccer fields, tennis courts and even in the middle of highways, buckled from the earth’s movement.    

Stray Dog Designs is a designer/manufacturer of lamps and home accessories – all original works of art designed by Jane Gray. Each piece is handmade from quality and recycled materials whenever possible, by artisans in sustainable jobs who have history working in the mediums we choose, and who live in areas of the world most in need of work. A portion of the purchase price of every Stray Dog Designs product is donated to organizations that serve critical needs like feeding hungry children, building housing for the homeless, and providing healthcare and homes for stray cats and dogs.

For more information about Stray Dog Designs, go to http://www.straydogdesigns.com or call 423-756-7337. Read the blog of Billy Pritchard’s trip to Haiti at http://dogma.straydogdesigns.com/.

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Randy Hale
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