The 610 Project

Nestled in the hills of Les Cayes, Haiti is a green plot of land lined with palm trees overlooking the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. In a country struck with poverty and tragedy, this lot is a space that represents hope and potential—it’s a place where one day children will laugh, learn, and have the opportunity to make a difference in the future of their country. However, this future is only possible if our Shoals community partners together to make a difference. Melissa Daniel Bain, a Muscle Shoals native, and the founder of The 610 Project loves two places—The Shoals and Haiti, and she invites our community to join her in serving the people of Haiti by building a training space for children and adults that will facilitate education, vocational training, and microenterprise.

The dream to make a difference began 6 years ago after her first trip to Haiti as a volunteer with Soles4Souls. After traveling across the United States as an RV Tour Spokesperson for Soles4Souls and traveling internationally as their Travel4Souls Coordinator, she eventually visited Haiti three additional times and found that the Haitian people are filled with hope in an incredibly impoverished situation. After recently moving back to the Quad-Cities she knew that our area could make a transforming difference in a place that is far away, but close to the hearts of many. The ultimate goal is to build an Education and Outreach Center for 250 children that inspires them to dream, hope, and believe in a better future for themselves—breaking the cycle of poverty.

Already The 610 project team has worked hard in 2016 to start raising money for the Les Cayes Education Center Campus, with the goal to break ground in mid 2017 and begin building a place that will provide a space to teach both children and adults how to use their resources to change lives. So far they have had several successful events, with the most recent one being the Tables of Ten fundraiser, which featured 6 local chefs cooking 6 courses at the Marriott Conference Center. The amazing event began with hors devours by Chef Garien Shelby and featured 6 additional chefs Kyle Ogden, Alan Phillips, Zachariah Chanin, Josh Quick, John Melton, and Ashley Terry, who together created a unique, delectable menu, that included, Pork Cheek Terrine, Seared Gulf Snapper, and a Lemon Honey Cake. And while the room was impeccably decorated, the food delicious, and the band lively and entertaining—everyone was solely focused on raising money to provide for a cause that will give back and provide education to future generations.

If you missed out on the Tables of Ten event, don’t worry fundraising has just begun and there are plenty of ways to help. The ultimate goal is $750,000 to cover the costs of constructing the school and separate volunteer quarters, which will host volunteer and church groups throughout the year. The next big chance to get involved will be the Renaissance Man Triathlon on July 10th . The 610 Project has been chosen by Renaissance Man as the partnering charity for this year’s race and you can support them by registering to race or by volunteering to work the race route. Also, The Spinning Spoke has a Bike Share Program at their local bike shop in downtown Florence, which gives anyone the opportunity to donate a used bike, which is fixed for free and sent to the students in Haiti. Additionally, across the U.S. programs like Horns in the Attic and Balfour Yearbooks are helping students obtain musical instruments to start a band and take their first school picture for their yearbook.

The 610 Project, born in the heart of one, passionate individual has ultimately lit a fire in the souls of many throughout the United States and abroad. When Melissa began dreaming of the possibility of starting a school in Haiti it was an overwhelming task, yet she realized she was able to do something and was determined to change words to actions—she was no longer content with being a spectator and decided that even if she failed, at least she had tried. However, failure isn’t an option because the Shoals community is made up of generous people who are compassionate and genuinely determined to see a better future for children around the world. There are incredibly exciting, life-changing things going on in our area, and if you feel like it’s something you’re passionate about and you want to help, check out their website at and email to find out how you can serve alongside your neighbors to help build a better future for children in Les Cayes, Haiti.


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