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Haiti earthquake responders recount experiences with Post Middle School students

Dr. Jerry Rusher of Arlington talks about his recent volunteer efforts in Haiti for students at Post Middle School on Friday, March 19. Post students donated $750 to a group of volunteers, who used that money to purchase medical supplies and food for earthquake victims. - Adam Rudnick
Dr. Jerry Rusher of Arlington talks about his recent volunteer efforts in Haiti for students at Post Middle School on Friday, March 19. Post students donated $750 to a group of volunteers, who used that money to purchase medical supplies and food for earthquake victims.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

ARLINGTON — Every dollar counts.

That's what students found out during a recent presentation by Dr. Jerry Rusher and nurse practitioner Jeanne Wessel at Post Middle School.

The two Arlington residents were part of a team of volunteers who recently spent time in Haiti helping earthquake victims at a hospital in Dessalines — a city about 90 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

Rusher and Wessel were on hand Friday, March 19, to share their experiences in the ravaged country, and thanked the students for their generous donation.

"Don't think that just because you're in sixth, seventh or eight grade that you can't make a difference," Wessel told a group of about 75 students in the school's library. "The money you raised is worth eight times as much in Haiti as it is here. It bought a lot of food and medicine — give yourself a hand."

Students at Post raised $750 from a three-day bake sale in January for a group of area volunteers, including Wessel, who left for Haiti in late January after the quake hit the country's capital.

The idea for the fundraiser came from students in sixth-grade teacher Cody Decker's class.

Students collected items and sold them in the school, and donated the proceeds to the Post PTA, which in turn gave them to the departing group of volunteers from Arlington Free Methodist Church.

"We had piles of cookies, and two tables up at the front of the school," said sixth-grader Brandon Qual.

Those same students hosted the three Friday presentations made by Rusher and Wessel, which were given during first, second and third periods.

"This is kind of their reward," Decker said.

Rusher began the presentations with a short introduction, and followed it up with a brief slideshow of photos taken by volunteers during their trip to Haiti. Wessel then followed up with a second slideshow.

Many of the photos shown were of Haitian patients who were receiving care after the Jan. 12 earthquake. One photo showed a picture of the collapsed four-story Friends of Haiti Organization building that collapsed on and injured Arlington resident Katie Zook.

Zook is currently recovering with her family and receiving physical therapy and treatment the non-life threatening injuries she sustained.

"After the building collapsed, Katie couldn't holler because the concrete would have crumbled on her," Wessel told the students. "So she tapped a bottle until somebody heard her. The rescuer told her to just keep praying and don't stop tapping."

Qual said the presentation was difficult to watch, but added that he learned a lot about not taking what he has for granted.

"We're kind of spoiled with what we have here," Qual said. "It was an accomplishment that we were able to raise money and help and see where our money went."

Fellow sixth-grader Aaron Paloalto agreed with Qual.

"I bet times are really hard for those kids," Paloalto said.

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