While some students choose are spending their Spring Break soaking in the debauchery of sun-kissed tourist destinations, David Ames is asking Gainesville residents to spend their break making a difference in the world.
Ames is the founder of humanitarian group From Gainesville With Love, which partners with Jacmel, Haiti, to revitalize its population since the 2010 earthquake.
Before founding the group, Ames worked in the admissions and marketing department of the Florida School of Massage. He has since given up that job to organize FGWL’s efforts full-time.
He graduated from UF with a psychology degree and combines those skills with his background in marketing to reach out and recruit potential volunteers. It’s his job to help them discover how their skills and interests can help the people of Jacmel in a fulfilling way.
“We don’t like telling people what to do,” he said. “We like asking people how they want to help and being able to help them find an opportunity.”
Ames became involved with Haiti after last year’s earthquake. After hosting an aid benefit at the Florida School of Massage, he and his colleagues were left with about $3,000, and they were wondering what they could do with it.
Ames decided it would be best to spend it on the Haitian people directly. A completely volunteer-based organization, FGWL has successfully organized four trips to Jacmel and have helped build partnerships between local churches, businesses and artists with they’re counterparts in the Caribbean.
“We’re not an aid organization,” he said. “We believe that relationships in the real world are a two-way street and to get out of that trap of fostering long term dependencies … there’s got to be a two-way street.”
They’ll make their fifth trip March 5 to March 13. During their visit, volunteers will help build homes for the displaced and host medical clinics, educational workshops and community events.
The trip costs $360, which includes hotel accommodations and food expenses as well as excursions to beautiful Haitian landmarks.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the trip, lending a hand or seeking future internship opportunities with the group can learn more by visiting fromgainesvillewithlove.org or looking up FGWL on Facebook. Ames can frequently be found tabling for the group on the Reitz Union colonnade.
“Watching everything fall into place … it’s kind of a dream come true,” he said.