Pittsburgh's Social Media Community Comes to Aid of Haitian Orphanage
Led by blogger Virginia Montanez, Pittsburgh's social media community has rallied behind two local girls stranded at an orphanage in Haiti, with efforts centered on getting them and the children they care for out of the earthquake-ravaged country safely.
Montanez has been a fixture of the blogosphere in Pittsburgh since her days as the sometimes vitriolic, but always entertaining, PittGirl. She rose to popularity with her observations about her beloved hometown and has a huge following on Twitter and her blog, That'sChurch.com. Now Montanez is using that popularity to try to make a difference in Haiti.
She met Ali and Jamie McMurtrie, sisters from Ben Avon, Pa., at a November fundraiser. The pair captured the attention of the local media with their work at the BRESMA orphanage in Port-au-Prince. The McMurtrie sisters have been involved with the orphans since 2002.
When the earthquake hit this week, Montanez and local writer Jonathan Wander, who wrote about the girls earlier this month anxiously awaited word from the McMurtrie sisters. But when word arrived, it was not good.
The McMurtries had made it to the U.S. embassy in Haiti, but did not want to leave behind the orphaned children. Montanez, who tweets under the name @JanePitt, then channeled her formidable Twitter following and used her very popular blog to focus attention on the sisters' plight:
"This is my plea to you to work any connections you have to help get Jamie and Ali McMutrie out of Haiti along with the children that already have adoption papers set for adoptions in U.S. homes," Montanez wrote. "I’m looking at you, local and state politicians with Washington connections. I’m looking at you, rich people with private planes. Please don’t look away from me.Continued on the next page