In 2006, as students at the University of Miami, Michael Carcaise and Michael Laas travelled to Haiti with Project Medishare to gather data for an engineering project. In discussion with Project Medishare’s then-Programs Coordinator Jennifer MacCormack, Mr. Carcaise and Mr. Laas conceived of an organization to mobilize the U.S. sailing community to support subsistence fishermen of Haiti.
As former officers of the UM Sailing Club, Mr. Carcaise and Mr. Laas pieced together the first load of 14 sails from the Club’s obsolete unused inventory. The first load was sent to the remote village of Abricots, Haiti and consisted of, among others, Laser II, Sonar, and Hobie catamaran sails.
Since that time, Sails for Sustenance (SFS) was formed as a non-profit corporation in the State of Florida and obtained 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. Through a partnership with Coconut Grove Sailing Club over 200 sails were collected in the South Florida area. The SFS mission has been embraced by the greater sailing community and volunteers have collected sails on behalf of SFS in cities such as Chicago, IL, Rochester, NY, Hyannisport, MA, Washington, DC, and Levittown, PA. Individual donors have shipped sails to SFS HQ in Miami from all over the United States, including California, Texas, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Click here for a list of donors and collectors.
In response to the catastrophic earthquake suffered by Haiti in January 2010 SFS suspended normal distribution of its sails in Haiti to avoid interfering with the delivery of critical relief supplies. SFS referred its donor network to organizations providing immediate disaster relief. SFS also provided a shipment of sails to be used as shelter for displaced people in Haiti. As of June 2011 SFS resumed normal operations as demand for food and medicine shipments into Haiti have reached a steady volume.
To date, Sails for Sustenance has collected more than 400 sails. Fishermen in the Haitian villages of Abricots, Grand Sable, Testas, Bon Bon, and Dame Marie have received sails from SFS with the help of Food for the Poor, Fondation Paradis des Indiens, Hope for Haiti, and Haitian Health Foundation. Read more about these villages and our distribution partners here.
Your Sails in Action
Watch more videos on our YouTube Channel to see how your contributions make a difference.
Promote Sails for Sustenance in your fleet or at your yacht club. Collect sails or hold a fundraiser to support a Haitian fishing village. Click here to learn more.
Contributions, both in-kind and monetary, are tax-deductible. All funds raised are used to transport sails to Haiti, or to send SFS representatives to Haiti to assess the impact of donated sails and to expand our reach by forming partnerships with trusted organizations that operate in Haiti every day. We make our 501(c)(3) documentation available for your convenience.
Where Your Sails Go
View SFS in Haiti in a larger map
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