Herold Charles: 2010 Honoree
A 6'6", playful, music-loving high school senior, Herold grew up in Jacmel, Haiti, about 25 miles from Port au Prince. Five years ago, his father brought him to Miami to escape the political and social turmoil of Haiti and have better educational opportunities. Herold's mother and five siblings stayed behind, but they stayed in constant touch through calls and texts -- Herold can talk a mile a minute.
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti, killing an estimated 200,000 people and leaving over a million homeless. Herold spent the day furiously trying to reach his family, to no avail. Finally at 11 that night, he reached his brother-in-law who told him, "The country is gone. There is no more Haiti." It wasn't until the next day -- 24 hours after he learned of the disaster -- that Herold's mother finally reached him at school and told him his family was alive but his home was gone.
The 24 hours during which Herold didn't know the whereabouts or safety of his family were life-altering. He realized that his ability to consistently reach his brother-in-law could be of critical importance to other families searching for loved ones in Haiti. Using twitter, Herold helped 25 families locate their loved ones -- though it was not always good news. Then he began using his twitter account to help guide relief organizations to the exact locations of people still trapped under debris, texting for help.
Since then, Herold has organized food drives at school, and relentlessly makes himself useful to aid organizations like The Human Initiative, Help Haiti Heal, and Help Chile Heal -- helping not just Haiti, but anyone faced with a natural disaster. But he's concerned that as media coverage fades, Haiti will be forgotten. "In January, the whole world was helping Haiti but now they're trailing off. We are in it for the long run." (Here's more information about two organizations Herold is helping: The Human Initiative and Haiti Relief: Fireside International)