Watching as women balanced buckets of disease-free water on their heads and carried them back to their homes, Seth Stammler felt a sense of pride in his work. Before his involvement in Haiti relief, the locals had to walk up to 10 miles for potable water.
After a six-day philanthropic trip to Haiti in 2006, the New York Red Bulls defensive midfielder established the Sporting Chance Foundation (SCF).
“I wanted to get away and have an impact on children’s lives,” said Stammler. “I went down not expecting to be as inspired and changed as I was when I got back.”
Impacted by the strong will, zest for life, and patriotism of the Haitian people, he set the wheels in motion for SCF. Highly involved in its everyday operations, Stammler returned to Haiti, just weeks before the earthquake hit, to observe the opening of a well in Cité Plus. Since then, he has focused his philanthropic endeavors on improving the standard of living in Haiti.
As its two main objectives, SCF aims to provide potable water and academic funding. As the No. 1 leading cause of death in the world, contaminated water needs to be purified for the locals to consume. SCF has successfully built one well that eliminates water-borne diseases and provides drinking water for more than 10,000 Haitians daily.
“I’m very proud of the work we have done with the Sporting Chance Foundation,” said Stammler. “It’s an award to be shared by everyone involved, from the Board members to all the donors who have given since its existence. Obviously without them, none of this would have been possible the education and clean water program.”
In a country where 90 percent of the institutions are private and only 35 percent of the population has received any education at all, SCF has granted more than 65 scholarships to disadvantaged youth. The scholarships provide an education from six accelerated programs and two community schools, and are monitored to ensure quality and compatibility.
In an effort to clear the rubble and to create jobs, Stammler also organized the Cash for Work Program, which compensates locals who clean up after the earthquake catastrophe.
Stammler combines his two passions – soccer and Haiti relief – through clinics and pick-up games. For those who do not have food, shelter or clothing, soccer can provide an escape from reality. Soccer unites this American with thousands of Haitians and continues to have a growing impact on the country’s morale and hope for a brighter future.
Although his most notable work takes place in Haiti, the three-time Red Bulls Humanitarian of the Year remains active in New York, New Jersey and Ohio, conducting soccer clinics and volunteering at his local YMCA and Athletes for Charity.
Stammler, who is retiring after playing seven years in MLS, continues to dedicate his time towards SCF. He plans to build a second well to supply potable water for over 20,000 inhabitants and to increase the number of annual scholarships. SCF is currently working towards rehabilitating two wells found in the communities outside of Port-au-Prince, and Stammler hopes to return to Haiti this winter to oversee the organization’s progress.
“Last December, we went down for the first time since the programs were finalized and were able to meet the children who, to date, received scholarships," he said. "To see the water well that the donor’s money went to and to see the difference it made in the daily lives of Haitians in the neighborhood, was the most fulfilling moment.”
For more information about the Sporting Chance Foundation, visit www.sportingchancefoundation.org.