Valdosta Daily Times

January 22, 2010

Valdosta State librarian opens his heart to Haitian people

By Matt Flumerfelt

VALDOSTA — Cliff Landis, the technology reference librarian at Valdosta State University, recently offered to match up to $10,000 in donations by anyone willing to donate to the Haitian relief efforts of Partners in Health.

“I was seeing what was going on in Haiti and hearing about it and so, in my heart, the first thing that I heard was: I want to give $10,000, and just like anything else, when your heart speaks, a lot of times your mind can overcome it. So my mind started saying well, I’ll give $5,000, well I’ll give $1,000, well I’ll give $500, well I’ll give 10 bucks, and I decided not to do that. I decided to just go with my first gut reaction, which was to give $10,000.”

Landis set up a donation page on the Partners in Health Web site, where he offered to match up to $10,000 in donations by anyone who would donate to the relief efforts of PIH.

He said he chose Partners in Health because it was one of the first to respond and has been in Haiti for more than 20 years. PIH has the lowest overhead of almost any not-for-profit organization in Haiti, he said, so he felt his donations were going to the organization that would do the most good.

Landis said he originally planned to continue the campaign until the end of February, but within only three days, the donations reached the $10,000 mark.

“I expected it to take a month and a half and so I was pretty impressed with the speed and the generosity and the kind words, and just the amazing response I got.”

Many of those who responded to his offer and donated, also sent touching messages of support, many of which Landis said he posted on his video blog at http://clifflandis.net/. Others soon followed his example and set up matching donation pages on the PIH Web site, he said.

“The thing about South Georgia is that we don’t have disasters of that scale. We have a tornado come through and it’s horrible. We have a really bad rainstorm and get some flooding, but to have everything collapse ... this part of the country just doesn’t have those kinds of disasters.”

Landis said his $10,000 donation has pretty much wiped out his savings, but he considers it money well spent. And he advises others to open their hearts.

“Follow your heart and don’t second guess it, and really consider giving to Partners in Health because they’re going to be able to make a long-term difference in Haiti,” he said.

To learn more, visit pih.org.