There’s always something to howl about

Using Social Media to Help In Haiti…..

I wasn’t going to put anything up on here, but a very gracious e-mail from Greg Swann encouraged me to lay out my experiences over the last 24 hours and how we can use social media not only to further our businesses but more importantly in dark times like this, we can use them to do good for those who are much less fortunate than us.

For the last 22 hours and 15 minutes (with the exception of a 2 1/2 hour nap around 4:00 this morning,) I’ve been using social media to help in Haiti. Let me explain:

  • As many of you know, my wife and I adopted our two youngest children from Haiti in the summer of 2004. We’ve remained very involved with the orphanage that we adopted them from, God’s Littlest Angels, which is in Petionville Haiti.
  • I’ve been on the board for the orphanage since 2006 and every year since 2003 (with the exception of 2005), at least one of our family has been back down there on a mission trip to help out. My 20 year old has decided to devote her life to third world medical missions, almost certainly in Haiti.
  • Throughout those experiences, I’ve developed a pretty extensive network of people around, literally, the world who have connections to Haiti. Most of those are Facebook Friends.
  • In addition to that, I’ve developed a pretty extensive network of online friends in the real estate and lending communities literally all across the country. If you consider Seattle to Miami to be all across the country, I think I’ve got it covered.

Yesterday, those two worlds met and it’s been truly a mindblowing experience. Let me explain:

  • At 5:15 pm, I got a tweet across tweetdeck that was from @latimes (I use that as one of my news sources). It talked about a massive earthquake in Haiti, near Port Au Prince.
  • I immediately hopped on AIM and talked to God’s Littlest Angels stateside coordinator and confirmed that the orphanage was affected but that the damage appeared minor and everyone was safe.
  • I then spent the next several hours e-mailing, facebooking, twittering and IM’ng with people all over the world trying to connect people, find out what’s going on, reassure adoptive parents who are panicking because their kids are down there and just help.
  • One of the other people who I follow on twitter is @anncurry. Ever watch the Today Show on NBC? Yeah, that Ann Curry. Well, she tweeted that they were trying to get in touch with anyone who speaks English and is on the ground in the earthquake zone.
  • That started a series of DM’s, IM’s and so forth and eventually, I was able to connect people from NBC with Dixie Bickel, the orphanage director at God’s Littlest Angels. I’ll show you later in the post the result of that conversation.

In addition to that, an adoptive mom in Oregon and I connected yesterday about this all. Guess what she does for a living? Yep, she’s in charge of utilizing social media for their business.

She and I ended up connecting and actually had a phone conversation at around 1:00 this morning (my time, not her time). We then worked up a way to make a difference in Haiti. We’ve kicked off the God’s Littlest Angels 1000 x 1000 Campaign.

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • We want 1000 people around the world.
  • To each commit to raising at least $1,000.
  • That means that each of them would need to ask 10 people to donate $100.

I just got done talking with a local radio station and they asked me, “What is the biggest concern that you have with the orphanage right now? We’ve got three:

  1. Safety – so far everyone at the orphanage is safe, but staff members have lost family members in the earthquake.
  2. Adequate supplies of food, medicine and fuel for the generator. Without fuel, we have no electricity. Without electricity, sick babies die. It’s not an over statement, it’s a fact of life in a 4th world country.
  3. With 160 kids currently at the orphanage, we are “over capacity.” How are we going to handle it when a substantial number of new orphans show up at the gate within the next week or two? Realistically, given the estimates of death tolls, another 50 to 100 orphans at the gate of the orphanage is a potential outcome.

I had previously set a blog to attempt to spread the word about what God’s Littlest Angels is doing for the kids in Haiti. You can find it at We’ve started to use it more for raising awareness of what’s happening and the utter devastation in Haiti.

Since we started last night, a couple of things have happened at

  • Traffic is up by about 1000% (that’s not a misprint).
  • Donations are doubling approximately every three hours.
  • The staff in Haiti is seeing and hearing that and is greatly encouraged because they know that people back in the states are caring about them.

Now I’ve got a challenge for you. Every single one of the readers of the Bloodhound Blog are social media experts. I’d be very grateful if you could take up the challenge and use the devastation of the country of Haiti as an opportunity to show that Social Media can be used for the good of the downtrodden, not just for fun or profit.

Take this information, take this post, take the blog at and rise to the challenge and go find 10 people (or more) who can donate $100 (or more) to help the orphanage take care of the needs in their community.

I’d love to report back (and I will) on the good that the real estate community did.

To make it even easier, just click on the widget below and it will take you to paypal where you can do your part to help and encourage others to help.

Add this widget to your web site or weblog

Oh, and I told you earlier in the article about how I hooked Ann Curry from NBC and the Today Show up with Dixie Bickel from God’s Littlest Angels? The result of that?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If you have questions, want to discuss it further, you can tweet me at @tvanderwell, friend me on Facebook, or e-mail me at or use that old fashioned thing called a phone and call me at (616)292-7559.

On behalf of the kids in Haiti, thank you for making a difference in their darkest hour.

Tom Vanderwell


8 Comments so far

  1. Tom's Friend in Oregon January 13th, 2010 2:55 pm

    Also… GLA is in the unique position to help. Right now. And they don’t have to wait to arrive in Haiti – they are there, now. Given they are a credible organization and have registered nurses, medical supplies, a generator and links to the outside world, they can have an immediate impact in Haiti (and aid those in need.) However, there is great responsibility with these actions and also the need for funds to support them.

  2. Greg Swann January 13th, 2010 3:10 pm

    Bless you, Tom. I’ll appeal to my clients to read your post and push the button.

    Inlookers: If you’ve got fifty or a hundred bucks left over from the holidays, you’ll never find a better way to get more enduring human value for your money.

  3. John Smith January 13th, 2010 4:15 pm

    Excellent use of technology! This is just what Haiti needs!

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Todd Carpenter, Tom Vanderwell, Real Estate Feeds, Greg Swann, Mike Bowler Sr and others. Mike Bowler Sr said: RT @tcar: RT @tvanderwell: Reading: Using Social Media to Help In HaitiNow on Bloodhound ( ) show them what we can do. […]

  5. […] has issued a challenge over at Bloodhound Blog to raise money for the children of Haiti. Please consider supporting this most worthy of […]

  6. Julia January 14th, 2010 12:18 pm

    My son is from Ethiopia. The Ethiopian adoption blogosphere is working on raising money as well. It’s heartbreaking that those who have the least just get piled on.

    And don’t get me started on Pat Robertson…

  7. […] But if you trust my endorsement of him, read his post. Its a good cause and I think its a cool way o… […]

  8. Haiti | Off the Beaten Plan January 15th, 2010 4:06 am

    […] there is not a way for me to currently raise $1,000, there are other more fiscally available ways for me to help. I urge you to help, if you can, and […]