Deanna McNair of North Tonawanda has always had an ambition to help others. When she was just 14 years old, she decided she wanted to sponsor a little boy who needed assistance in Haiti.
“My first trip to Haiti was when I was 16 to go meet the boy I was sponsoring. That, among other twists in my life, set me on my current path,” she said.
Later in life, McNair worked at People Inc. and Autism Services, but an unfortunate car accident when she was 21 years old required her to have five back surgeries for the next 13 years. Sadly, she wasn’t able to work at these organizations anymore.
“When I volunteer, it’s the only time I don’t feel in as much pain. As a teenager I was very involved in my church youth group, raising money for different causes. Being able to do good things for other people, even if I didn’t get to meet them, made me feel better about myself starting at a very young age.”
McNair is now 38 years old and has been to Haiti three times. She also spent a month in Cambodia. She is currently a student at Buffalo State studying speech pathology, something she is very passionate about.
“When I first met a boy named Banner when he was 4 years old, he had just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, wasn’t talking yet, and was just learning to walk with a walker. Two years later he is fluent in English and Haitian Creole and walking without his walker. He is the reason I chose speech pathology as my major.”
McNair now has plans to travel to Haiti again in June, this time to help build a house for a family with The Dirt Road Project, based in Rochester. In order to fund this trip, she is selling jewelry that was handmade in Haiti by moms and dads in the Pappilon Marketplace.
“One day I want to start a foundation to provide speech pathology services in third world countries. For now I’m getting experience with volunteering there. It’s like therapy for me to help other people.”
If you would like to purchase jewelry to help fund McNair’s volunteer trip to Haiti, message her on Facebook to learn more.