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Who was Brit?

Britney Gengel

Britney Gengel was a beautiful and fearless 19 year old girl from Massachusetts who believed that she could change the world. She protected the underdog, was a voice for those who didn’t have one and knew how to enjoy life. She’ll be remembered for how she could light up a room, bring people together, help the less fortunate and live life to the fullest. She was a beautiful soul, compassionate, intelligent, trustworthy and loving. She believed in and unconditionally loved the children of Haiti during her last days on earth and she was determined to help the kids of Haiti. Her last wish was to start an orphanage and that’s why the Gengel Family decided to start the Be Like Brit Foundation.

Learn More about Britney

About Be Like Brit

2010
2020

It's because of people like you Be Like Brit has been able to have such an socioeconomic impact on the Community of Grand Goave. If you believe the impact over 10 years from 2010 to 2020 was remarkable, wait until you see 2030. Below is a breif overview of who we are, what we are doing and why we started. We are grateful to be able to continue the compassion of Britney!

Our Timeline

  01/02/2010

Britney and 300,000 people perish in the Haiti earthquake

  09/01/2010

Land Purchased in Grand Goave haiti

  12/242010

Construction Begins

  06/01/2012

First Britsionary Trip, Becker College

  12/31/12

Orphanage Completed

The Children Are The Future!

Be Like Brit is dedicated to the growth & development of a devastated country. From offering water filtration and distribution to local families to health care for Brit’s kids, their families and the community. Read more about our individual projects and the impact on Brit’s Kids, the community and those from around the world making it happen.

OUR COMMUNITY

Brit's Home is located in Grand Goâve, Haiti, 30 miles southwest of the Capital of Port-au-Prince. Grand Goâve is a market town, with an estimated population of 27,500. It is a short distance to the Caribbean Sea, located on the southern coast of Haiti. We are directly on the Gulf of Gonâve to our north, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Grand Goâve was chosen as the location for Brit's Home because Brit had been scheduled to go there the day after the earthquake. Her group was to volunteer at a fishing village served by the organization Food for the Poor.

GRAND GOÂVE IS OUR COMMUNITY. The people of Grand Goâve have been supportive and actively involved in our efforts from the time that we first looked at the site where we would later begin construction on Brit's Home. Today, Be Like Brit is the largest employer in the area, with an average work force of 100 staff, along with additional employees for construction projects. All but two of our employees in Haiti are from the Grand Goâve area.

We believe strongly that in order to best help, we must involve our community members in solving the problems we face. We never assume to know what is best or most needed to help a family who may be struggling. Our local staff, which include social workers, nurses and teachers, develop the treatment plans and curriculum for our children. Our policies and our processes include our local staff and members of the local community every step of the way. We have a clear appreciation for, and insistence on, a collaborative approach to problem solving in our communities, and know that our community and friends in Haiti are the best experts in helping us guide this along. This is why at every level of the decision-making process, all interested parties are involved, fostering a truly community-driven response to the issues we face.

OUR PROJECTS

Water Distribution: Brit's Home has a nanotechnology filtration unit that us used to purify the drinking water inside the home. Since Brit's Home opened in 2013, when possible, we have distributed up to 1,000 gallons of purified water daily to local families. Less than half of the people in rural Haiti have access to clean water, and many die each year from water-borne diseases. In 2016, we expanded our wells and rain-water catchment basins, with the aim of increasing our daily distribution to 2,000 gallons daily when possible, serving upwards of 75 families per day. With the average household size in Haiti being approximately 6, we estimate that we’re serving between 450-500 individuals each day, when offering water distribution.

Housing: As of the end of 2019, our Britsionary volunteers have built over 145 houses for people in the neighboring area. These are sturdy houses with concrete floors, locking doors, and metal roofs, and they are equipped with indoor bracing to protect them from being damaged in tropical weather patterns. All of the homes built before October 2016 withstood the devastation that Hurricane Matthew brought to the area in October 2016. We estimate that more than 870 people live in the houses that have been constructed to date. We plan to build up to at least 25 additional houses in 2020.

Health Care: Brit's Home has a well-equipped clinic, providing general medical, dental, and ophthalmologic care, with the technological capabilities to operate telemedicine equipment. The clinic is staffed by a full-time Haitian nurse, as well as volunteers from Medical Centers in North America who typically come down for week-long service projects. The clinic within Brit's Home serves our children, our staff and their families, and is open to the community when providers are available to us throughout the year. We are now expanding these services by providing medical clinics to people in the local community. We plan to serve even more of our community members in 2020, focusing on preventative education, well-child, and maternal and child health initiatives (MCH). In January of 2017, Be Like Brit became an approved pre-designated Landing Zone for the Haiti Air Ambulance, enabling us to facilitate emergency air evacuations by helicopter in the most desperate of situations.

Community Projects: Be Like Brit serves as the host organization and facilitators of a Deep Impact Partnership (DIP) with the Life is Good Playmakers of Haiti. This DIP is designed to provide professional training to schools and caregiver staff not only at Brit's Home, but also in the schools in which our children attend. This systems-approach is designed to provide more consistent and appropriate care to children across the board. Playmakers is the charitable arm to the Life is Good Corporation and uses play as a way for children to work through challenging histories, traumas, and experiences.  Our caregiver staff has all participated in this workshop/training since 2014. 

Our children and staff also work together with the town of Grand-Goâve, leading community park cleanup initiatives and hosting cultural and musical events in these public spaces. We continue to collaborate with other schools, children’s homes, missions and organizations in our area and beyond whenever possible, demonstrating our willingness to work with others toward the same goals.

Hurricane Matthew: When this Category 5 storm hit the southwest coast of Haiti in October of 2016 with devastating winds, heavy rainfall, and subsequent flooding, Be Like Brit rose to the occasion. Brit's Home became an emergency shelter for over one hundred people, including families of staff and our neighbors whose houses had been destroyed. Be Like Brit appealed to our friends and supporters, and raised funds to send over 16,000 pounds of food, medicine, and supplies on a 40-foot shipping container, which was then shipped to Haiti. We also expanded our house-building program, committing ourselves to build homes for those who lost theirs in the storm.

FUTURE PLANS –
WHERE WE ARE HEADING

BLB has exciting endeavors in progress to bring our children, staff and facilities to the next level of growth and performance.

First, our focus is to continually provide enriching opportunities for the children and staff to learn, grow and evolve. Secondly, we are constantly focused on finding ways to allow BLB to be self-sustainable operationally and environmentally. And, thirdly, we remain committed to caring for and empowering our neighbors who are in need.

Raising the next Generation of Leaders in Haiti

BECKER DREAMS PROGRAM

In an exciting, developing partnership with the Yunus Centre for Social Business at Becker College and our long-time friend Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine who is the Professional Development Advisor and Facilitator at Be Like Brit, we have enrolled 11 of our employees in Haiti who are in leadership positions at BLB in the Dreams Program: Educating the Future Leaders of Haiti. Piloted in the fall of 2016, delayed by the events around Hurricane Matthew, this program aims to develop in our higher-ranking staff the skills necessary to achieve greatness and to model it for our children, too! We see potential growth in this area as funding streams open up and donor interest is garnered. To learn more about this program, please email Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine at Debbie@BeLikeBrit.org

EXCHANGE PROGRAM

As of the start of 2017, all of the children at Brit’s Home in Haiti, as well as dozens of our employees, have been enrolled in formal English as a Second Language classes. With the addition of six classes and the evaluation and determining of appropriate levels, our ESL program is in full swing. As we work to extend real-life experiences to our children, we’re creating and developing a virtual, cultural-exchange program for our children, connecting with volunteers and former Britsionarys across the world through our high-speed internet and the use of our ABC Mouse computers and our Surtab Mobile Classroom Android Tablets, which were purchased with a generous grant from the Schwartz Foundation. We hope to open up a whole new world – quite literally – to our children and staff at Brit’s Home in Haiti! Stay tuned for more information.

SPEAKER SERIES

When possible, we’ve invited Haitian friends we’ve made along the way to come speak to our children about their own personal stories. This year, we hope to formalize this with the launch of an official Speaker Series – bringing success stories and real-life examples of triumph over adversity to our children and our staff at Brit’s Home in Haiti. We want our children to know that anything is possible in life, and that a whole world of opportunity exists for them, even in the face of hardships and challenges. We hope to motivate and inspire with this program, and highlight examples that rise above the idea that Haiti is “the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere”, a tagline that seems almost automatic when invoking the word Haiti. We believe we have a social responsibility to change that narrative that overshadows the successes of Haiti; through our Speaker Series, we believe we can change the negative portrayal of Haiti as a whole.

BLB ACADEMY

Brit's Academy was launched as a pilot program in the fall of 2016 to provide specialized education for several of our children with educational, behavioral, emotional, and learning needs. In September 2019 we expanded Brit's Academy to include 43 of our children. BLB has hired seven certified teachers, as well as seven teacher assistants and has launched a curriculum to meet those needs. We’ve seen huge improvements across the board in these children in a relatively short period of time. It is our goal to bring our educational program to more of our own children at BLB.

Expanding Medical Program

Our internal medical clinic, a 1150 square foot facility, has seen significant growth and expansion in terms of services since our official opening in 2013. We have exciting plans on the horizon for the BLB Clinic in 2020, including exploratory trips with potential partners scheduled for the year, and the development of a strategic plan to expand the scope of our services beyond our own walls and community. With the designation of the Field of Hope as a pre-designated landing zone for the Haiti Air Ambulance services, we now can offer emergency evacuation from Grand Goâve by air. We are also looking at formalizing relationships with other non-profit organizations already operating in Haiti, offering monthly pediatric clinics to our community and beyond.

Cistern and Sprinkler Project

After almost two years of construction, the 100,000 gallon cistern and Field of Hope projects were completed in the fall of 2016. With the installation of a secondary well and the construction of drainage swales to carry the water to our cistern, this year we will complete Phase 3 of the project – the installation of a comprehensive irrigation and sprinkler system to water our 1.5 acres of gardens and fruit trees around our property at Brit’s Home in Haiti. This cistern and the drainage swale systems serves another function, too, in that it will help in the serious problem of environmental degradation through erosion – a problem that threatens so many here in Haiti.

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Len Gengel

Co-Founder
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Cherylann Gengel

Co-Founder
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Bernie Gengel

Vice President
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Love Pun

Haiti Director
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Rick Muhr

Development Director
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Melissa-Jean Provost

Community Relations Director
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Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine

Professional Development Advisor & Facilitator
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Chloe Textor

Florida Director
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Francky Janvier

Haiti Britsionary Coordinator
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Mysterway Jean Baptiste

Psychologist
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Rolando Zephirin

Daytime Supervisor/Children's Actvities Coordinator
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Dabia Bijour

Britsionary Security
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Mirlaine

Nurse
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Joenelson Manuel Joseph

Haiti Britsionary Coordinator
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Madame Finette

Kitchen Manager
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Maurice

Daytime security supervisor
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Manoucheka

Female Night time Supervisor
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Sanon

Male Night time Supervisor
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Pelege

Night time security supervisor
Len Gengel

Papi Len Gengel

Co-Founder
Cherylann Gengel

Cherylann Gengel

Co-Founder
Bernie Gengel

Bernie Gengel

Vice President
Susan Wornick

Susan Wornick

Board Member
Dr. Peter J. McDonald

Dr. Peter J. McDonald

Board Member
Christine Steinwand

Christine Steinwand MSEd.

Board Member
Father John Madden

Fr. John Madden

Board Member
Jodi Sweeney

Jodi Sweeney

Board Member
Michael J. Rezuke

Michael J. Rezuke

Board Member
Eileen Terry

Eileen Terry

Board Member
Richard Gengel

Richard Gengel

Board Member
Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine

Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine

Board Member
Mark H. Leff

Mark H. Leff

Board Member

We Wrote a Book (Almost Sold Out)

Heartache and Hope in Haiti : The Britney Gengel Story was written by her parents, Len & Cherylann Gengel. It is an account of the tragedy and triumph the Gengel family experienced in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. In the book, Brit’s parents describe Brit, her trip, her family’s experience and the building of Brit’s Home. The book will make you cry; the book will make you laugh; and it will, we hope, inspire you to “Be Like Brit!!!”

Awards Received by the Be Like Brit Foundation, Inc.

  • Telegram & Gazette: Best Fundraising Event
    November 2019
  • Telegram & Gazette: Best Fundraising Event
    November 2018
  • Myra Kraft Community MVP Award
    June 2017
  • Telegram & Gazette: Best Fundraising Event
    November 2017
  • Telegram & Gazette: Best Non-Profit
    December 2016
  • The Gold Award: The Girl Scouts: Cherylann Gengel
    June 2016
  • Project 351: Service Hero
    February 2016
  • Red Cross: Woman Who Care Be Like Brit
    October 2016
  • ACEC/MA Excellence Gold Award: Be Like Brit Building
    April 2015
  • Featured in Woman's World Magazine
    March 2015
  • University of Massachusetts Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters
    June 2014
  • Commencement Speaker at Asnuntuck Community College
    May 2014
  • Becker College Honorary Degree Doctorate of Humane Letters
    May 2014
  • Top 25 Woman Changing the World by Cyrus Webb, Cherylann Gengel
    March 2014
  • Mom’s Choice Award: Heartache and Hope in Haiti
    November 2013
  • Massachusetts Home Builders; Legend of the Industry Award, Len Gengel
    November 2013
  • Feature Story in Success Magazine
    August 2013
  • McGraw-Hill: Best Project in the Residential/Hospitality Category
    June 2013
  • Commencement Speakers at Middlesex Community College
    May 2013
  • International Book Awards Finalist (for Len and Cherylann Gengel’s book Heartache and Hope in Haiti)
    January 2013
  • Perkins School Distinguished Service Award in the Field of Service to Children : Be Like Brit
    June 2012
  • Skills USA: Visionary Award
    April 2012
  • Boston Celtics Award: Hero Among Us Award: Gengel Family
    August 2011
  • Red Cross: Red Cross Heroes: Len & Cherylann Gengel
    March 2010

(An award was also created called The Britney Gengel International Humanitarian Award and is now given out every year)

GET IN TOUCH

(508) 886-4500
OPERATIONS CENTER

66 Pullman Street, Worcester MA, 01606

SOUTH FLORIDA OFFICE

Jupiter, Florida