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Becker Students to “Be Like Brit” on Haiti Service Trip

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

 

A dozen volunteer students from Becker College will hold a fundraiser this Thursday to generate money for an upcoming service trip to Haiti. The students will be staying at the soon-to-open "Be Like Brit" orphanage, established for Britney Gengel, a Rutland native who tragically died at the age of 19 in a 2010 earthquake while helping orphans in Haiti.

The fundraiser is set to begin at 5 pm and run through 8 pm on Becker's campus at 80 William Street in Worcester. The event will feature an address from Becker President Robert E. Johnson, along with music from MainSouth and a live auction.

Len and Cherylann Gengel, Britney's parents, and the founders of "Be Like Brit," will also be on hand. The Gengels certainly have ties to Becker and the students involved. Len is a Becker alumnus and former member of the school's board of trustees. One of the students now traveling with Becker even knew Britney growing up.

"I've known Britney since middle school, and I went to high school with her at Wachusett," Becker senior Kelly Smith said. "I got an email from group leader Debbi Pallatto-Fontaine about this service trip, and I jumped at the opportunity... Knowing the family and being close to Brit before, I have kind of made this my life-long passion. Just following her dream and helping 'Be Like Brit." The experience has been absolutely life-changing. "

Funds raised at the event will help those 12 Becker students travel to Haiti and help children at the "Be Like Brit" orphanage from March 9-16 of next year.

After Britney's death in 2010, her parents began "Be Like Brit" to take up the cause of their daughter and help the poverty-stricken children of Haiti. They made it their mission to honor Britney with the building of the "Be Like Brit" orphanage, which is set to open in early 2013. It will house 66 children in need.

Melissa-Jean Provost, a junior at Becker, will be presenting a slideshow at the fundraiser, and traveled with Becker to Haiti for the school's first ever service trip last May. While there, she met the Gengels, and decided she had to go back.

"I met the Gengels on my first trip (to Haiti) and went back with them in October," Provost said. "As soon as the Gengels created 'Be Like Brit' I knew I wanted to get involved. I just had to go."

Provost says she grew up with dreams of helping those in need around the world, and would tell her parents of service trips she planned to take to Africa and other destinations across the globe. Though she first wanted to become a teacher or social worker, Provost now hopes to earn a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict studies and continue her trips to Haiti.

"Once I got there, I knew I had made the right choice," Provost said. "People always ask why I keep going back, but I just fell in love with the country. The people are amazing."

For more information on "Be Like Brit" and how you can get involved, click here.
 

 

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