Excel Fitness trainer, Ilicia Balaban and client Dena Shaffer, have teamed up with Congregation Beth Israel and One Small House to travel to Haiti this July, with 10 other West Hartford residents to build a house for a family of three that has been stranded and living as refugees in a tent since the 2010 earthquake that devastated Port au Prince.
The build took seven days and required that the team raise $8,000 to cover the cost of materials that were used to forge the modest home. Team members worked tirelessly to raise money for the home, sending letters to friends and family, participating in networking drives, and reaching out to contacts that span a wide variety of interests and activities.
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, Excel Fitness joined in the effort by hosting a specialty Zumba class, taught by instructor Kate Barrett, and we are proud to report it was a huge success. The class was well attended and raised over $430 for the build. One hundred percent of the funds collected for the class will be donated to materials for the build.
Excel Fitness has a long standing history of community involvement, contributing to a variety of charity and non-profit organizations in the greater Hartford area and supporting our members and clients in their pro-bono endeavors. Excel Fitness owner, Jeff Roux remarked, “It is very important to me and to all of our staff that we continue to participate in the causes that are important to our members. It’s our way of giving back to a community that has given so much to us. We are thrilled to support Dena and Ilicia in their travels to Haiti and to have been a part of such an inspiring event.”
Upon their return, Ilicia and Dena could not speak more highly of their experience working with the family they were building for and giving back to a community so desperately in need. “This experience has absolutely changed my life,” remarks Balaban, “I can’t wait for my next opportunity to travel either back to Haiti or elsewhere and contribute to a similar project!” The extent of the family’s gratitude was truly inspiring. Shaffer adds, “[This work is] transformative, and not just for the people who live here but for each of us as well. We will take these experiences home with us, we will change the way we relate to the international community and to issues of poverty. Their stories are our stories, our fate is tied up with theirs, and CBI and One Small House have launched a partnership that is simply overflowing with potential.”
On behalf of all the participants in this trip, we would like to take a moment and thank all of those who donated to funding the materials for the build. We would not have been able to contribute so enormously to a family’s survival and skill development without your support!
For more information on the opportunities available and services offered at Excel Fitness, and/or to schedule a complementary consultation, please call Ilicia Balaban (860) 523-8167.