Haiti's Be Like Brit Orphanage, Built in Honor of Massachusetts Teen, Bracing for Irma - NECN
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Haiti's Be Like Brit Orphanage, Built in Honor of Massachusetts Teen, Bracing for Irma

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The orphanage set up in honor of Britney Gengel, a Rutland, Massachusetts, woman who was killed in an earthquake while volunteering in Haiti, is preparing for the impact of Hurricane Irma.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017)

    A Massachusetts woman's legacy is being protected as Hurricane Irma churns closer to Haiti.

    Britney Gengel of Rutland was just 19 when she was killed in the 2010 earthquake while she was on a mission trip with Lynn University. The Be Like Brit orphanage, founded in her memory, is now bracing for Hurricane Irma less than a decade later.

    "We're ready to deal with it and also make it seamless for the kids,” said Be Like Brit administrator Love Pun. “We are preparing for the worst, of course, and hoping for the best."

    Pun said the orphanage has stocked up on supplies.

    "We have backup diesel, four barrels for our generator," she said. "We have started filling up our jugs to have enough drinking water, and for food, we have enough to last us a week."

    The orphanage was opened in Britney's memory by her parents, Len and Cherylann Gengel, who now work for the foundation in Worcester, Florida and Haiti.

    "Tragically, she was killed in the Haiti earthquake, along with 300,000 other people,” said Cherylann Gengel.

    In 2010, while on her mission trip, Britney sent a text to her family just three hours before the earthquake hit. She told them she wanted to open her own orphanage one day.

    After she died, her parents and two siblings made good on their daughter's dream.

    "We built a 19,000 square foot earthquake proof building," said Gengel.

    That building now houses 33 boys and 33 girls. The number is significant to the family, representing the 33 days it took to find Britney's body in the rubble.

    The building was designed to remember their daughter in many ways. The orphanage is shaped as the letter "B." It has eight main columns that represent the number of survivors on the university's mission trip.

    The school colors are blue and yellow, reflecting the last colors Britney was photographed in before she passed.

    Currently, the children at the orphanage are prepared to brace the raft of Hurricane Irma.

    "We're just preparing just to make sure when the time comes were not rushing and ready to deal with it," said Pun.

    "I don't feel nervous at all. Be like Brit has done so much to prepare," said communications coordinator Danielle Cutillo of Worcester.

    Cutillo said she's never been through a storm like Hurricane Irma, but is confident in the way the building was designed.

    She's been volunteering with "Be Like Brit" after hearing of Britney's passing and said Haiti is a place where "love lives."

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