This month’s Business Forward Females (BFF) luncheon topic was “Heartache and Hope in Haiti: The Britney Gengel Story” with Cherylann Gengel, co-founder of the Be Like Brit Foundation (belikebrit.org). Watch the presentation here. On February 9th Cherylann shared her amazing story: from grieving for her daughter, to building in the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. Their experience is proof that you can find meaning and purpose in tragedy, that faith and love are everlasting, and that one person’s dream can change the destiny of thousands.
Britney Gengel was a vibrant nineteen-year-old Lynn University sophomore when she traveled to Haiti in January 2010 to work for an aide group. Deeply moved, she texted her mother that she dreamed of returning to open an orphanage of her own.
Shortly after sending the text, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Its impact killed an estimated 300,000 people, including Britney. Vowing that her death would not be in vain, Len and Cherylann Gengel along with sons Bernie and Richie kept alive their daughter’s dream by starting the Be Like Brit Foundation,Inc. and building a 19,000 sq. ft. orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. Today there are 33 girls and 33 boys living and thriving in the orphanage. The number 33 is symbolic of the 33 days Brit was missing in the rubble at The Hotel Montana. The majority of these children are true orphans or came from such horrific conditions that they simply couldn’t say no. They are raising the next generation of leaders in Haiti.