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Monday, July 12, 2004

Haitian immigrant in New Jersey founds charity- always for their homeland and never for America

Haitian immigrant in New Jersey founds charity
Haitian immigrant in New Jersey founds charity
Monday, July 12, 2004
By William Kulesa
Journal staff writer
Fred Jean-Jacques moved to America from the island nation of Haiti almost 30 years ago, but no one can accuse him of forgetting his roots.

Jean-Jacques of Maplewood may have left behind his native soil for a better life in America, but in turn he has also established his own charitable foundation to benefit his homeland.

FRESNI Foundation Inc. was in the works for several years before finally coming to fruition as a government recognized charitable organization in March, and Jean-Jacques is convinced that he, and the people he has working with him, can make a difference.

Starting with a beauty supply store in Brooklyn, Jean-Jacques began establishing businesses in the United States and abroad. Along with his brothers, Jean-Jacques opened an instrument case manufacturing company in Montreal, Canada, and on his own began a wholesale business, FRESNI Trans International, which has offices in Jersey City and East Orange.

Jean-Jacques said he will be putting containers in area supermarkets, including Jersey City, for the collection of rice, beans, canned goods, hospital supplies and clothing.

As an enterprising and successful businessman, Jean-Jacques has succeeded in attaining the American dream and providing a comfortable life for himself, as well as for his wife and daughter. It is an accomplishment which most likely would not have been possible in his homeland.

The nation of Haiti is by most measures the poorest in the Western hemisphere, with 80 percent of its people living below the poverty rate. The almost constant political turmoil of the last several years, culminating in an uprising that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office in February, has only made matters worse.

One of Jean-Jacques' first efforts was an ad campaign calling on people to help with the devastating floods which recently swept across the island nation, but he said many more campaigns are in the works. He said his ultimate goal is to help Haiti recover from its tragic history of poverty and political turmoil.

"The Haitian people hope that they will have a better president," Jean-Jacques said. "I realize today that it is time to stop hoping that a government will come to make a better future. It is time to take our future into our own hands, as a people we have to take care of ourselves."

For more information about Jean-Jacques' mission, call (201) 332-3344 or (973) 673-3777, or write to FRESNI Foundation Inc., 741 Bergen Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07306.

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