PHILANTHROPIST AND FOUNDER of Christel House International Christel DeHaan died June 6 at the age of 77. Christel House International, with support from companies such as Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, operates schools for children from impoverished areas in several countries, including India, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa and the U.S.
DeHaan, who immigrated from Germany to the U.S. shortly after World War II, was also co-founder of Resort Condominiums International. She sold RCI and founded Christel House in 1998. The not-for-profit organization currently serves 6,000 students and graduates globally.
“Christel’s vision and compassion were unparalleled,” says Dennert Ware, chair of the Christel House International Governance Committee. “Christel sought to provide impoverished children with a seat at the table of life – and accomplished her mission with a unique blend of business acumen, generosity and empathy for those less fortunate. Her legacy will live on in the thousands of lives she uplifted.”
The Endless Success Foundation, created by DeHaan’s estate, will support Christel House’s general and administrative expenses in perpetuity to allow donations to go directly to school programs and services.
Wyndham is a long-time supporter of the organization. In 2015, then chairman and CEO of Wyndham Stephen Holmes visited Christel House India – Bangalore during a visit to that country. The company’s current CEO Geoff Ballotti said “our hearts were broken” by DeHaan’s death and posted a video on LinkedIn.com of a presentation he gave on the organization at the 2018 AAHOA convention.
“Christel is an amazing woman who grew up of very modest means in war-torn Germany,” Ballotti said in the presentation. “She is making a difference. She pulls children from communities that are all too common, communities you all know far too well. Where electricity is a big issue, where water and sanitation are often non-existent, but where families are proud.”
Ballotti urged others to donate to www.Christelhouse.org in DeHaan’s memory.
Christel House schools offer courses in grades K to 12 with a focus on providing students with the necessary skills to survive. There are seven schools with an eighth scheduled to open this year in Jamaica. The schools have a 90 percent graduation exam pass rate, and the majority of its graduates go on to pursue higher education.