The reflections in this special tribute to Christel DeHaan offers personal memories of a truly remarkable woman. And, it isn’t just The Resort Trades or the timeshare industry feeling saddened by the loss of its favorite daughter but also the world is mourning as evidenced in the published obituaries in both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times marking the passing of inspirational leader. Christel DeHaan was a true force of nature who accomplished much in her 77 years on this earth.
Her entrepreneurial spirit and demand for excellence allowed her to develop RCI into a global powerhouse culminating in the impressive sale of the company in 1996 to Cendant. Christel then brought her sizable business skills and passion to her true calling – helping the impoverished children of the world with the founding of Christel House International in 1998. Christel, over the last twenty-two years, had become a recognized global leader in educational and transformational opportunities for impoverished children changing the lives of those who have the least.
Christel was champion of the words of Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages, Moses Maimonides, and often quoted his “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This quote aptly describes Christel’s philosophy of helping others.
Since her passing, I have been thinking about what Christel DeHaan wanted us to do to celebrate her life. And, I know the answer. She wanted to make sure all children had a real chance for success and the opportunity to do more with their lives and the world than spend it to struggle for food and shelter. Thanks to Christel’s careful planning, the work of Christel House will continue to be supported through funding from the Endless Success Foundation, an organization created by her estate. It was her wish that all Christel House general and administrative expenses be covered in perpetuity. This allows all donor investments to continue to directly serve the programs and services needed by Christel House students.
Because of her planning, Endless Success will continue to fund much of Christel House infrastructure meaning every dollar we continue to raise for Christel House will go directly to the kids and the mission. Christel House has set up on their website where people can leave condolences and memories. The Christel House team is collecting these postings for the family at: https://christelhouse.org/rememberingchristel/.
There are many opportunities to participate in supporting Christel’s well thought out dream of a better world for children. You can make a direct donation to Christel House in Christel’s memory. Another great way to honor Christel’s legacy is to support the Christel House Open Golf tournaments – all have been rescheduled for later this year. There are dozens of ways to support Christel House which are also available on the website.
We are all truly better for having been touched by Christel DeHaan’s presence in this world. I, like you, will miss her greatly and am committed to keeping her mission a live through Christel House. Please join me in honoring Christel DeHaan and her life’s work through continued support of Christel House.