What We Are.

As a volunteer with the Delray Beach police department in 2010, I saw firsthand some of the disparities that were in the community.  Our kids were failing at a higher rate due to lack of support, resources and language/cultural barriers. Politicians made promises in times of election but never followed through to ensure that the community has some of the basic necessities i.e. security, housing, employment, etc… One of the fellow volunteers Mr. Joseph Louis motivated me to step up by creating an organization that will be the voice of those who are not able to speak up. The community did not have a representative or access to the right channels to get some of their concerns heard.  So with the support of my peers in 2011, Volunteer Association and Fund of Florida was founded and registered with Sunbiz. For the next few years, the organization had a close relationship with the Haitian-American Roving Patrol (HARP). HARP is a volunteer group that aids the city of Delray Beach Police Department. In 2014, with the help of attorney Mac Bernard, the organization established a major staple by becoming a 501C3 organization. With this accolade, we started networking with other organization in the Palm Beach County area to shed light on social, economical, and educational disparities facing our communities. Some of the organizations that we have partnered with are:
  • New Florida Majority,
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • and NW + SW Alliance
  • Rural Women’s Health Projects (RWHJ)
  • Radio Nouvelle Lumiere WPBR 1340 AM 96.1 FM
On February 2018, the organization held its first symposium and it made history for more than one reason. It is the first time that a debate was held in the Haitian community, for the Haitian community and by Haitian activists. This debate was held for the city of Delray Beach municipal election. It was a debate where the community can speak with those who running directly to bring for their concerns.  We did not stop there; we know the importance of education, so we held a debate with the runners for three district seats in the Palm Beach County School District. There were debates for county commissioners and judges race as well. In 2019, we launched our monthly community meetings and it is through these meetings that we were able to hear the concerns of the community. We often bring guests who are able to share resources on programs offered for housing, earning a trade, small business, etc. We also took their concerns to city officials to fight for Delray Beach to become a welcoming city, we also are currently fighting and working with the school district to implement a dual language program that will help students who are Haitian-Creole speakers. We have hosted immigration clinics, food drives and media platform to educate the community on important matters. Every week, there is a radio emission on Radio Nouvelle Lumiere WPBR 1340 AM 96.1 FM called “Enfomasyon se pouvwa”, where we talk to the community about important matters. It is now the year 2020 and with this pandemic affecting so many, we have partnered with Rural Women’s Health Projects (RWHJ) to fight for accessibility to affordable testing for all. As an organization, we understand the impact of this pandemic on the lives of many. This pandemic has affected everyone to some extent, so we are working with county officials in our county to see how they can ensure that important information about the illness and resources available during this economic crisis are printed in different languages so that all are aware and educated on the illness and resources accessible. Many students are struggling with e-learning for various reasons but the main two that we have heard over is accessibility to academic resources and technology. Some of these students have illiterate parents or parents with limited education, so with libraries and schools closed they really do not have access to academic assistance. Some households have 5 plus more kids and they were only given one laptop; so there are not all able to complete their activities as required by their teachers. So, we are working diligently to see how we can provide support to these families with the help of the school districts and volunteers in the community. So as this pandemic continues to wreak havoc and bring about changes to all that we have known, the organization is working hard to ensure that everyone has the basic necessities whether it is academically, accessibility to testing, accessibility to resources and information in their native language, etc.  As the organization continues to grow, it is our heart’s desires to see a community center for the unvoiced minorities, to see a dual language program in Haitian-Creole/English in our school district, to see not just the city of Delray Beach but the state of Florida as a welcoming state for the Haitian community and to see less disparities in the healthcare field. These are some of the concerns that initiated this organization and over the years we have brought awareness to these issues; we may have won the battle but the war is still raging. Therefore, Volunteer Association and Fund of Florida will continue to be the voice of those who do not have a voice.
 
Best Regards,
 
President: Colson Zulmar

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