Ahwatukee resident aids with building libraries in Haiti - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

Ahwatukee resident aids with building libraries in Haiti

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Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2013 3:45 am

When most people retire, they choose to travel the world or simply enjoy the satisfaction of having some much needed “me” time.

For Ahwatukee resident Paul Hopkins, he decided to enjoy his retirement helping the less fortunate country of Haiti by joining the organization Universal Learning Centre (ULC), which focuses on bettering the citizen’s education.

“Everyone deserves an education, and that’s your ticket out of poverty,” he said.

Hopkins, who recently was named board chairman of ULC, has been associated with the organization for a little over five years, and after retiring in 2008 his main goal was to get involved with nonprofit organizations.

The national ULC organization has been around since 2006, and has helped with the building of three libraries in the country of Haiti.

In past years Hopkins got involved with other nonprofit organizations, but decided to focus more towards assisting countries on getting a chance towards a better education.

The first library the ULC assisted with was built in 2009, and in February Hopkins and each ULC member assisted with the building of two additional libraries.

Hopkins said between the three libraries that have been built, nearly 3000 people visit the facilities.

“We build and sustain learning centers in developing nations,” he said.

The strategic plan for the ULC is not only to focus on helping the country of Haiti, but to assist other developing countries around the world who are less fortunate when it comes to bettering themselves educationally, Hopkins said.

The organization initially chose to focus on Haiti because its founder, Jacques Jean, is originally from Haiti and felt it would be a good starting point.

“Over the next three years we have a plan to build more outside of Haiti,” Hopkins said.

In future ventures, Hopkins said the ULC will be looking to partner with local school districts to sponsor a library where they will donate books to the libraries in Haiti.

The ULC will be hosting its inaugural Universal Learning Centre Gala event, “Courage in Learning,” where they’ll share stories about visiting Haiti, along with having a silent auction featuring Haitian street art.

The event will take place this Saturday, Oct. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St.

Individual tickets start at $100, with proceeds going directly towards operations of ULC.

The organization is expecting to raise more than $10,000 during the Saturday’s “Courage in Learning” event.

For additional information about the ULC organization or the “Courage in Learning” event visit, www.universallearningcentre.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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