My Haiti, Child Welfare, & Energy Security Efforts

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My other involvements are as dynamic as ever. I’m not talking about the Phillies’ quest for a third straight National League pennant or the young Eagles’ aspiration to soar.  I’m talking about Haiti, Child Welfare and Energy Security.

As many readers know, I am intensely interested in the Citadelle becoming a serious tourist attraction on the north coast of Haiti.  We expect to be the “launch customer” with our guests at Labadee.  John Weis did Haiti a great service by spearheading the development plan. With adequate funding, it should not take more than a few months for the Citadelle to receive visits.  There is a reconstruction commission that should be making funding decisions for projects, such as the Citadelle, and there is some indication the process is unfolding. There is a risk that Haiti election politics will distract, or even overwhelm, the reconstruction decision making.  I recently received an invitation to participate on a panel about Haiti, at the Clinton Global Initiative in September and I am looking forward to it.

Child welfare isn’t easy.  The progress Our Kids has made in Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys is reflected in the metrics and in the kudos our staff is receiving from many quarters.  We are excelling in adoptions, highly recognized for getting medical and dental care for children, and for the technology that supports our caseworkers as they visit the children.

Unfortunately, there is a major controversy surrounding funding for the young adults who have “aged out” of the foster care system at age 18.  Many of these young adults are eligible for support known as “Independent Living (IL)” or the “Road to Independence.”  Whatever the moniker, this is a problem area. Children who have had every advantage in life would likely struggle under the conditions these young adults encounter as they try to master life skills, pursue their education, and hold down one or more jobs.  It’s not surprising IL kids face elevated risk of homelessness and crime.  The controversy emanates from the Florida Legislature’s decision not to fully fund the IL program for this fiscal year.  From Our Kids’ point of view, we cannot take monies that were appropriated for children less than 18 years of age and move them to support the young adults over 18.  While the Legislature’s action appears to and may be insensitive, it is forcing a discussion about the substance of the IL program which is beset by many issues besides the funding level.  It’s hard to see any easy way out of this issue.

Finally, in the world of energy security, there is growing momentum for the electrification of road transport.  Congress did not take action before the recess; therefore, action may not occur before the November election.  There is mounting evidence that endangered species – bipartisan support, could be sighted in this context as it passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 19-4.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid included electrification in his slimmed down energy bill and the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was one of the three areas in which he believed he could find agreement with the President and Democrats.

The Energy Security Leadership Council, to which I belong, continues to work behind the scenes to convey to the Legislative and Executive Branches that a meaningful U.S. commitment to electric vehicles would benefit the environment, our national security, and the economy.  Of course, the environmental impact would depend on what energy sources are powering the electric vehicles (it should be noted that filling an electric car from electricity from a coal fired power plant is still better from an emission standpoint than a current internal combustion engine).  Because there are so many potential energy sources for the grid, it is reasonable to expect that over time the role of fossil fuels would reduce and alternative energy sources would grow. Some would say electric cars are the only vehicles that will get cleaner as they get older!

  • Joe Rutherord

    Congratulations on the Our Kids program, it’s success is a model that all communities can benefit from.
    Florida’s IL program has good intentions but suffers from lack of funding and unfortunatley is not a key issue that politicians will rally behind. The IL kids need transition help but often the wrong side of society ends up guiding them.
    Electric should be the way of the future (produced by nuclear energy)but until the younger generation replaces the current legislators we are mired in our fossil fuel mentality.
    Please continue with all of your efforts and excellent work.
    See you on The Allure!

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you for your kind words Joe. We are always thinking about our youth and how we can help influence a positive change. We are looking forward to seeing you onboard Allure of the Seas.

  • Kathi Borthwick

    I am truly amazed by the effort the cruiseline puts in to help here. When I was in Labadee I enquired of a crew member about how Haitain staff are tretere and he explained about all the ways that RCCL helps them.I felt bad sitting with huge platters of food while they were entertaining us.Thisis the main reason that I choose your cruiseline. The staff are happier and have more dignity and it shows in the final product. Diversity is valued.When we cruised to Ocho Rios 2 years ago, we awere taken on a tour of a primary school and saw firsthand how much is needed there. So I managed to get a computer and printer donated . It took almost a year ndue to red tape but I wish I could do more. Those children were beautiful.Wonderful initiative!Kathi

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you for continuously choosing Royal Caribbean Kathi. We pride ourselves in having the best staff possible to serve our guests, and their happiness in working with us plays a key part in this. We are also very aware of our surroundings, and aspire to make a difference whenever possible, which is why we commend you on taking initiative and donating the computer and printer. We definitely look forward to having you onboard with us again soon.

  • Lidy Franklin

    I went to Labadee this past summer, my first time back since 1995. What a difference! I congratulate RCCL with their continueing support for Haiti. I look forward to the day that I could visit La Citadelle and Sans Souci. I know the wheels of change move slowly but surely the “powers that be” see the potential economic boon it would be for the entire Departement du Nord. I wish you all continued success.

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you for your kind, and encouraging words Lidy.