When Dr. Larry Mellon founded Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti more than 50 years ago, he could not have envisioned the January earthquake that would thrust the hospital into the forefront of the relief effort and tax its already strained resources. But certainly he would have been proud of how the hospital responded, and of the many members of the extended Mellon clan who have continued to support the work he started.
Chief among them is his niece, Louise Stephaich, who was honored Friday during the 10th annual H'Art & Soul of Haiti gala held at the Ellis Armory in Shadyside. This spring Mrs. Stephaich threw a party at her home in Palm Beach and raised more than $1 million from the Florida community. No small feat in the best of times. That kind of dedication has enabled the hospital to continue its efforts under the leadership of managing director Ian Rawson, whose mother, Gwen, was married to Dr. Mellon, and his wife, Lucy, president of Friends of HAS.
Although the venue has changed in recent years, the gala format remains the same: cocktails and a buffet for patrons during the early part of the evening, dancing to live music (this year it was Cello Fury, a concert by Dean & Britta, and DJs) when the late crowd arrives and an ongoing sale of colorful Haitian art.
The Ellis Armory across from Bakery Square was new to most guests but the perfect spot to gather a crowd. The cavernous space was decorated to look like a Haitian market, with rows of clothing hung from the ceiling (later to be donated to the hospital), a rustic drinks shanty and island-themed food stations manned by big Catering. Homemade menu signs got right to the point: Pig, Shark, etc. But discovering the chocolate banana pudding was strictly by word of mouth.
Watching a slideshow of the hospital and Haiti by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Martha Rial were Mrs. Stephaich's sons Peter and Paul (in from Santa Fe), Terri and Chris Snavely, Elsie and Henry Hillman, Sandy Mellon, Mary Caroline and Todd Hunt, Jim and Ellen Walton, Marion and Josh Whetzel, Kitty Hillman and Richard Burkland, John Tippins and Dr. Laura Pallan, Alice Snyder, Art Stroyd, Jeannie and Luke Desmone, Vivian and Bill Benter, Alexandra and Brooks Robinson Jr., Susan and Tom Schmidt, Lulu and Prentiss Orr (who donated his Boyd & Blair vodka), Barbara Granito, Barry Paris (who wrote the book on Haiti!), Jo Ann and Tom Succop, Bea and Don Carter, Anne and Vincent Lackner, Drs. Andrea Fox and Ken Thompson, Vicky Lee and Otto Chu, Dr. Bill and Cindy Swartz, and many more.