Dignity & Respect Champion Empowers the Poor by Employing Them

Ian Rosenberger is the founder and CEO of Team Tassy and Thread. Both of these organizations were founded in 2010 in the aftermath of the Port-au-Prince earthquake where Ian, who was a volunteer at the time, had an epiphany that working with the poor will be his life’s work. Ian met Tassy Filsaime in Haiti.  Tassy had survived the earthquake but was dying of an operable tumor on his face.

Ian formed Team Tassy, and after successful fundraising, brought Tassy to Pittsburgh for life-saving
surgery. The Team Tassy non-profit organization continues in its mission to realize the inherent power in every person to help end global poverty.

A second organization founded by Ian, Thread, takes trash from poor neighborhoods and turns it into
useful products while creating jobs. Ian says, “I’ve been all over the world, and the two things I see most are poverty and trash.” Thread is a for-profit business.

The two organizations Ian Rosenberger founded work in tandem, operating under the same core philosophy: the biggest problem we face as a species is multidimensional poverty and ending it is entirely possible in our lifetime.  To do this, we need to invest in the poor to create as many dignified, sustainable jobs as we possibly can. Team Tassy prepares people for employment. Thread processes recycled plastic, which will be turned into finished goods and, in turn, creates jobs for Team Tassy families.

Vivien Luk, Ian’s co-worker who nominated him as a Dignity & Respect Champion, says, “Ian sees the potential in training and employing the poor. He sees the possibilities for recycling waste, what people would never deem as an asset.” Ian, in turn, feels humbled to work with the poor people of Haiti.

He says, “The most satisfying part of my work here is giving someone the chance to stand up and be employed, especially someone who was down for a long time.” Ian feels he is “morally accountable to pursue a course of action to help the poor.” He explains, “Once you see poverty like this and acknowledge it, you have a responsibility to try and help eradicate it.”

When asked how he feels being recognized as a Champion of Dignity & Respect, Ian says, “I am very moved. I feel it’s a very cool thing and I appreciate people looking out for the work that we do. It isn’t what you do that counts, it’s the impact that you have that matters.”

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