Smarty Charlotte, meet this week’s super Smarty Mom, Tiffani Bacon. Married to hubby, Byron, for 13 years and mom to Xavier (2), Tiffani is a pediatric physical therapist and co-owner (with hubby of course!) of www.kinetickidsinc.com, a home health pediatric physical company.
Tiffani recently dropped everything in her Charlotte life and went to Haiti after the massive earthquake to volunteer and make a difference in the midst of the devastation.
Tiffani, please tell us about your recent experience.
That’s easy…intense!…but I’m happy and honored to have done so! The following diary gives an account of my experiences while in Haiti:
Monday, February 1, 2010:
Today was a bright, sunny, but cold day in Charlotte, North Carolina and I was extremely tired! I had a crazy day but everything seemed to somehow work out for my good! It always does!
First stop was Miami for the night as there was an overnight layover between Charlotte and Santo Domingo.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010:
I continued my flight from Miami to Santo Domingo, where I finally arrived in the Dominican Republic by 1:30 PM. There were no direct flights to Haiti at the start of Feb 2010! We had to fly into Santo Domingo and drive a rental car for 6-7 hours from Santo Domingo, into Haiti. At that time, the cost of renting a car going into Haiti was a total of $900 during our 7-day stay. The car rental expense was so high, secondary to Haiti’s unsteady climate.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010:
Armed with our GPS, we headed toward an address to a children’s hospital along the Dominican-Haitian border, located in a town called Jimani. We left Santo Domingo that morning and drove toward the hospital. Our final destination was to safely reach a secure location as close to Port-au-Prince as possible, at an orphanage called, Love a Child, located in Fond Parisien, Haiti.
Thursday through Monday, February 4 – 8, 2010:
When we finally arrived at the orphanage, I was so excited but nervous about seeing the vast array of patients. We were given a tour of the campus, which is very organized and well run. We had running, clean water, daily hot meals and some electricity. My assistant and I teamed up to treat several patients; our first was a little girl (pictured below) with, thanks to the earthquake, a below-the-knee-amputation . . . this particular child was one of my favorite patients. She was actually one of the “fortunate” children . . . for she did have her mother, who survived the quake and was able to care for her daughter.
It is at this point that, for me, my time at the orphanage began to run into each other . . . it was as if everyday was simply a repeat of the one before. The only other time I felt that way was when I was getting adjusted to having a beautiful baby son to love and care for.
Days immediately after the wonderful birth of my son in 2007, just ran into each other . . . just like my time in Haiti. I basically felt like the energizer bunny and “kept going” but on little rest. I would not trade my experiences for the world, however. Motherhood is challenging, but being a mom, a wife, and a pediatric physical therapist, is truly a gift!
The adorable little girl pictured here with the white short-sleeve tee and pink shorts, at the bottom, center of the page lost her mother during the quake. She actually saw her mother’s death. This little one is just 5 years of age. Her father remains missing. She is cared for by other Haitian survivors. She was seen for wound-care as she lost the tip of her left thumb thanks to the quake.
. . . okay, and now for the toughest part of my journey . . .
I have not disclosed the following information even to our HOLIA (Hands of Light in Action) five and have only mentioned the information to a few here in the United States . . . and it did not really hit me at the time but boy did it when I returned home . . .
Many Haitians would often ask me if I, too, was Haitian. I would reply, “No, but I wish I was!” Many children also were curious of my nationality. I am fairly certain that I was the first aid worker in both Jimani and Love a Child, who was a woman of African decent.
Some of the children pictured below, who bring to mind what my own little boy may look like when he is older, called me, “Mommy” . . . but they had just lost their mothers within just a week or two from the time this photograph had been taken!
“Mommy” … it is such a powerful word if you think about it! I cannot imagine my own child, who is presently two years of age, going through what the children pictured above, as well as others at the orphanage, are having to deal with. They already had so little to begin with . . . but to lose what little they had . . . a parent, a limb, etc … and for some, to actually witness the death of you own mother and or father … through the tender and innocent eyes of a child, to watch tons of cement collapse on your parent …
Being called “mommy” by several of these children, was at the time sweet, until I had the chance to really think about it once I had arrived back home. I was simply heartbroken and cried.
As time progressed I found myself accepted wholly by the Haitian community. I am so grateful that for the most part, I had been accepted and it felt good! I am going to miss those that I have had the honor of getting to know!
All of the patients that I had seen were motivated to get better – from a physical therapist’s perspective that is half that battle there!
What inspired you to volunteer?
I have always hated seeing others suffer, especially children. It really bothers me to see heartache and devastation. I simply felt and continue to feel as though I need to help.
How has it changed you?
It has reminded me to be joyful, regardless of the circumstance. If those in Haiti can still smile and do so sincerely, even after everything they have endured, most anyone can! Life is all about choices and determining where our focus lies. Choosing to be positive, choosing to do the right thing, choosing to forgive, choosing to be happy, etc. makes all the difference in our overall well-being and satisfaction with life in general. Also, my experiences in Haiti made me appreciate my family and close friends much more, valuing my time with them. Life is too short and too fragile not to live life to the fullest!
What can our Smarty community do to help you on your next mission and when is it?
Fellow Smarties could help by participating in a clothing/shoe drive as well as a fundraiser/bake sale on April 23rd , from 1PM to 4PM, at the following drop-off locations on behalf of Haiti:
The UPS Store #4952 at I-485 & Rocky River Road (University)
9611 Brookdale Drive, Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28215
*A special thanks goes out to Yanti Santoso at the UPS Store #4952
Shining Hope Farms
328 Whippoorwill Lane
Mt. Holly, NC 28120
*A special thanks goes out to Milinda Kirkpatrick, Director of Shining Hope Farms
The needs in Haiti are immense! However, Haitians love wearing flip-flops over most other styles of shoes, so this would be a great start especially with summer season upon us. Also, there are many babies in Haiti who have lost their moms and have therefore lost a potential source of milk . . . powdered formula would be greatly appreciated!
I go back to Haiti on May 18th and will stay for one week. I ask for your prayers for a safe return and I thank you so very much!!!
Moving on to lighter topics, let’s learn more about you as a mom here in Charlotte and what are your favorite digs!
Favorite kid-friendly restaurant?
Best place to score kids clothes and shoes?
I like the Children’s Place as they have some really funky but cool clothes for boys . . . and it’s hard to find cute boys clothes!
Best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
Build-A-Bear at Concord Mills Mall
Favorite place to buy a birthday cake?
Favorite piece of baby/kids gear?
B.O.B. baby jogger
Favorite family activity?
Going for a long walk through our neighborhood
Favorite vacation destination?
Kiawah Island, SC
Favorite mommy-time activity?
Reading with my son …☺ I love to see his sweet face light up when he understands something or when a a portions of his favorite books are read.
Favorite date-night spot?
The Cajun Queen
Best book you’ve read lately?
The Choice by Nicolas Sparks
Minivan or SUV?
SUVs … forget the practicality of a minivan … a mom’s gotta look cool! Or at least try hard to do so! =)
Favorite CSP article?
I like finding out about CSP’s “Smart Scoop on Weekend Activities” to stay up to date on the latest family events in and around the Charlotte area!
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
My father was in the USAF so I grew up “everywhere”, attending 14 different schools growing up! Compared to the other places I’ve lived, Charlotte is more family oriented and provides families with a wealth of family-friendly activities throughout the city. Also, it is nice to easily connect with other families who also have a “family first” mentality!
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
The Oasis Day Spa off of 7th Street is simply divine and was featured on Oprah several years ago!
I could not live without my…
iPhone . . . I NEED it for work and play! =)
Thanks, Tiffani, for all that YOU do, Smarty girl! Best of luck on your trip back to Haiti on May 18th. Smarties, don’t forget to drop off your summer donations, especially FLIP-FLOPS and FORMULA to Tiffani’s clothing drive on April 23rd.
Don’t miss out on these reminders:
–Smarty Giveaway – Just in time for Spring family outings, our friends at Children’s Theatre are giving one lucky Smarty (4) tickets to “Goodnight Moon,” the Margaret Wise Brown family bedtime classic. So presh and perfect for all ages from 3 to 99! Click here to register for your family 4-pack. Giveaway ends Sunday, April 18th at 5p. Good luck, Smarties!
–Quack, Quack! The Kindermourn Hope Floats Duck Race is this Sunday! We’re trying to be the leading team of ducks for the second year in a row. Click here to read all about it!