Hope in Haiti, Day 4, Part I: So long, partners

Eric Olson, SBJ EditorWith any traveling, the company we keep on the journey is half the experience.

For this Hope Experience to Haiti, Convoy of Hope assembled an eclectic bunch of businesspeople, literally, from coast to coast. It spanned Convoy Founder’s Circle member Rich Hickman, a Southern Californian, to Haitian-born pastor Rousseau Pierre, who lives in New Jersey and hasn’t returned to his homeland in 30 years.

I really got the sense this group would stay in touch for personal reasons, but I also heard talks about business as industries and contacts overlapped in their circles. Convoy is a glue that brought them together.

On these trips, travelers cover their airfare and Convoy handles lodging and meals. A small part of its big network, I appreciated seeing Convoy employ Haitians as drivers, cooks and translators for guests, as well as managers and cleaners of its guesthouse. We built relationships with these Convoy employees.

In such close quarters – bedrooms were shared and we usually drove five to a vehicle – we got to know each other’s likes, dislikes and quirks. We spent 52 hours on the ground together in Haiti, dozens of hours hustling through airports and in the air, and several hours shoulder-to-shoulder traversing the country in SUVs, at one point coming within 30 minutes of island-neighbor Dominican Republic.

While Haiti is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, it’s really known as “Haitian time.” True to his Haitian heritage, Pierre kept his own time. The group affectionately coined the phrase, “Waiting on Rousseau,” and joked one day we’d produce a romantic film aptly titled and starring Pierre. The pastor was an excellent sport.

Here’s the team on the Sept. 19–22 Hope Experience in Haiti:

Rick Zorehkey

Rick Zorehkey

Zorehkey is the special assistant to Convoy of Hope co-founder Dave Donaldson, a bulk of which is handling corporate relations. He travels 40 percent of his time for work.

Career: Built a real estate consultant business specializing in retail through The Zorehkey Group and Zorehkey & Associates, with clients such as Wetzel’s Pretzels. He still holds a California real estate license.

Notable: He’s a recovered drug addict and certified minister with Assemblies of God. I affectionately called him “Pops,” because he always referred to us as his family.

Quotable: “It’s important that when we deliver help we’re bringing hope.”

Rousseau Pierre Sr.

Rousseau Pierre Sr.

Pierre is a pastor for Faith-Filled Ministries in Newark, N.J.

Career: Born in Haiti, he’s called to lead pastors into his homeland.

Notable: He prays to tears for the needy.

Dr. Richard Niemeyer

Dr. Richard Niemeyer

Niemeyer is a 40-year doctor specializing in family, sports and international health at Leola Family Health Center in Lancaster County, Pa.

Career: He received a medical degree from Jefferson University and a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University. He co-founded and works with Youth Outreach International to provide medical care to such countries as Rwanda, Uganda, Haiti and Romania. Also, through Nieman Enterprises Inc., he sells Ferraris and Porsches.

Notable: He’s well traveled, having visited more than 50 of the world’s roughly 200 countries oftentimes to provide medical career.

Quotable: “We go as we’re called and asked.”

Austin Elliott

Austin Elliott

Elliott is a videographer/intern for Convoy of Hope.

Career: He’s studying at Missouri State University and graduating in May.

Notable: Like Jason Bourne, he’s from Nixa.

Troy Austin

Troy Austin

Austin is the chief collaborator at National Christian Foundation, focusing on the energy sector.

Career: He’s worked in real estate and financial law as partner in Farris Austin Mundheim and co-founder of Catalyst Asset Management, both in Fort Worth, Texas. He joined National Christian Foundation this year. “We help people give money away, focusing on the how to give,” Austin says.

Notable: He’s well read and says he was highly influenced by Dave Donaldson’s book, “Relentless.”

Quotable: “Convoy brings hope through logistics.”

Rich Hickman

Rich Hickman

Hickman is the founder, executive vice president and board member of Atlantic-Pacific Processing Systems in Orange County, Calif.

Career: He started his merchant/credit card processing company in his bedroom

Notable: He’s an international businessman who buys parts of businesses when he sees potential, and he’s a second-degree black belt. He’s a Convoy of Hope Founder’s Circle member and involved with Teen Challenge of Southern California. He traveled on a Hope Experience to Haiti two years ago and was excited to report back to his company’s executives about what he saw and experienced in Haiti

Terri Hasdorff

Terri Hasdorff

Hasdorff is the vice president of government relations for Convoy of Hope, working in Washington, D.C.

Career: She has worked in the White House, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of Labor. She helped to create the first office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives in her home state of Alabama.

Notable: Met Convoy co-founder Dave Donaldson while working in the trenches for the Faith Based & Community Initiative.

Quotable: On visiting Haiti before the January 2010 earthquake: “It was much more chaotic. There was a lot of tension, a lot of hostility. It is much more orderly now.”

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