On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Oscar-winning actor and humanitarian Sean Penn made a stop in Mesa to recognize Arizona residents Michael Pollack, a real estate developer, and sisters Shella Michel and Christine Ellis of Haitian Disaster Relief of Arizona for their contributions to the cause.
Pollack donated the Mesa retail space now known as the Pollack Haitian Hope Center when Michel and Ellis were searching for the means to help Haitians recover from natural disasters and other misfortunes. Opened in February of this year, the center accepts donations, clothing and medical supplies, all of which are transported to Haiti via various companies and organizations that volunteer their resources.
Penn, who is the CEO of the nonprofit J/P Haitian Relief Organization, commended Pollack, Michel and Ellis for their hard work and sacrifices. The Pollack Haitian Hope Center and Haitian Disaster Relief of Arizona work closely together and have raised more than $3 million locally in food, water, clothing and medical supplies for the Haitians since the country suffered from major earthquakes earlier this year. Now, they’ll be working in conjunction with Penn’s organization, too.
At a 1:30 p.m. press conference that same day, Penn discussed both successful and lacking regional efforts to aid Haiti. In a press release issued before the actor’s visit, Penn thanked the Arizona community for doing its part to keep a spotlight on Haiti. At the conference, he referenced Haiti’s recent cholera outbreak, and said that if the Haitian people don’t receive the aid they need, “babies are gonna die en masse, people are gonna die en masse, from the most treatable disease you could get.”