Patricia Brintle travels 'From Here to Haiti' to repair her homeland (38287)

It has been about three years since an earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010, and just last year Hurricane Sandy left behind even more damage. Although Haiti’s condition is gone from the minds of many, one biracial Haitian native, Patricia Brintle, has not forgotten.

Now a Queens resident, Brintle lived in Haiti until she was 17. Many of her paintings are inspired by her homeland, childhood and religion, Catholicism. Her earliest memory of making art was when she used coal to draw on a fibrous mango seed at 4 years old. Although she said she doesn’t remember a time when she was not doing artwork, Brintle began selling her pieces about six years ago. She is known for deep symbolism in her work, which has been featured in shows at several museums, including the Queens Museum of Art in New York, the Albert Schweitzer Institute in Connecticut and the Abbott Tract Gallery in Florida.

Brintle, a 66-year-old Con Edison retiree, received a call from a friend requesting help with the repair of a church roof in Haiti. A few months after the quake, she had gone to Haiti with a few of her church members to work on this project when she realized that the amount of work that needed to be done across the country was tremendous. So in October of 2010, the self-taught artist founded the organization From Here to Haiti to help repair non-governmental buildings of public assembly to promote self-sufficiency within Haitian communities.

“When the earthquake happened, I was just an artist,” Brintle said. “I lost a few family members, both close and distant, and I wanted to do something.”

Within five months of its inception, the organization had completed its first project of repairing a church roof, which was completed in just one week. “I just couldn’t believe that we actually were able to do it,” Brintle said. “It was such a good feeling.”

To fund the group, Brintle hosts art show fundraisers at her home in Whitestone, Queens, which she had transformed into a gallery space and where at least 30 percent of the proceeds are used to fund From Here to Haiti’s projects. The next show will be on Jan. 19 and 20 from 1 to 6 p.m. at 14-46 Utopia Parkway, Whitestone, N.Y. Work from over 50 artists, both Haitian and international, will be on display.

From Here to Haiti reviews requests for building repairs in Haiti, assesses the site and then raises money at these fundraisers to complete the projects. Since the organization’s founding, it has completed nine projects and has received about 50 requests for repairs.

Although many areas in Haiti were flooded after Sandy, the nine places that From Here to Haiti repaired are still in good condition. Next month, the organization will replace the roof of St. John the Baptist Church in southern Haiti.

“The process is very efficient; it avoids the bottomless pit when you send money,” Brintle said. “There’s accountability. There’s transparency. People who’ve donated the money can see the results in a relatively short period of time.” She added that photos of the progress are featured on the organization’s site and Facebook page.

After each project, Brintle also makes it a point to exchange contact information with everyone involved. Every week she picks one person to call from former projects just to stay in touch.

“The common way is that people do the work and they leave and they never see them again,” Brintle said. “It’s important to keep in touch once in a while because the camaraderie is fed.”

Brintle has also donated some of her paintings to several schools and churches in Haiti.

Even though Brintle said she is proud of the work she is doing, she sometimes feels overwhelmed by the amount that needs to be done in Haiti. She said her friends and husband, who is the treasurer of From Here to Haiti, keep her motivated.

“People are tired of giving to Haiti,” Brintle said. “They give, they give, they give, and they don’t see what they’re giving for. That’s something I want to change.”

If you are interested in helping From Here to Haiti, whether through volunteer work or donating money, contact Patricia Brintle at, or by calling 718-746-3012.