Cliff Avril’s father emigrated from Haiti in 1982, four years before Avril was born.
The younger Avril visited the Caribbeannation as a kid every summer to see his grandmother. That was until she died when he was a teen. He has three cousins living there.
That is largely why he is donating money for each sack he gets this season to build one home in Haiti.
And after a devastating earthquake in 2010, and then Hurricane Matthew roaring across the island last week, so many homes need to be rebuilt.
“Just the earthquake,” the Seahawks defensive end said Wednesday, shaking his head. “For one, it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. … It’s nothing similar to what you expect here — from electricity to clean water to just the way they are living.
“Most people are still living in tents from the earthquake, and whatnot.”
On Jan. 12, 2010, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. More than a quarter of a million people died. More than 1.5 million people lost their homes. More than five years later, 65,000 were still displaced.
Then last week, Hurricane Matthew killed more than 1,000 people in Haiti before it headed north to Florida and the southeastern United States.
Avril has decided to donate some his four-year, $28.5 million contract extension that runs through 2018, plus his time, to two organizations for Haitian relief. Mission of Hope Haiti is a Haiti-based organization that is providing food, water and medical services in the wake of the hurricane. New Story charity pledges that 100 percent of donations go to rebuilding homes and buildings in Haiti.
“That’s where I pledged every sack I get this year I will build a home in Haiti,” Avril said.
He has two sacks, with a chance for more Sunday against pass-happy Atlanta. Two sacks is roughly $12,000 for the island; an estimated $6,000 builds a home in Haiti.
Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, also of Haitian descent, introduced Avril to New Story charity and its home-building program.
Avril’s cousins live in Haiti’s capital of Port au Prince, north of where the hurricane hit hardest.
In April, Avril, retired running back Marshawn Lynch and other NFL players flew into that city. They helped build an elementary school, hosted a mobile medical clinic and put on a football clinic. Avril said that what they built in the spring withstood last week’s disaster, “but they are actually built (to withstand) hurricanes and earthquakes.”
It had been 15 years since he’d been to Haiti. He called his return in April “very eye-opening.”
“When you are 15 and you go to an island and you see what’s going on, you don’t process it the same way as when you process it at the age of 30,” said the now-husband and father. “You have kids and your vision of life is completely different, you know?
“It was very eye-opening. Very humbling.
“And it makes you grateful for everything you have here.”
Avril spent much of his bye week fielding calls from organizations that wanted him, because of his heritage, to donate money and his name to their cause.
Avril was discerning on which two calls he took.
“Unfortunately, when a disaster like this happens, a lot of these foundations aren’t really … a lot people are pocketing the money instead of actually helping,” he said. “It really opened my eyes to what the right organizations are to work with.
“Once we did, I’m all in.”
FRANK CLARK’S NEW HAMSTRING INJURY
Frank Clark has a new hamstring injury, putting the pass rusher’s availability for Sunday’s game against Atlanta’s high-flying offense in some doubt.
Clark’s absence from Wednesday’s practice came after the Seahawks’ bye week — and coach Pete Carroll saying the day after Seattle’s last game, on Oct. 2 at the New York Jets, how the team came out of that victory with no new injuries.
The Seahawks have used Clark effectively as a speed rusher inside next to Pro Bowl end Michael Bennett on passing downs, with Avril and Cassius Marsh outside. Clark, Seattle’s top draft choice in 2015, has three sacks in four games.
With Atlanta and Matt Ryan leading the league in passing and scoring, the Seahawks are likely to be in a nickel defense with a speedy front four rushing for most of Sunday’s showdown between division leaders.
Clark was watching the start of practice wearing a bucket hat while the rest of his healthy teammates were in helmets.
WILSON IS “IMPROVED”
Russell Wilson’s sprained knee and ankle continue to appear in better shape, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the quarterback “looks good.”
“He looks improved,” the play caller said following practice. “I’m not going to put a percentage on it, where’s he’s at, but he’s getting better every day.”
Rookie defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson recently had surgery to repair a break in his thumb and likely will be out at least another week, Carroll has said.
Rookie second-round pick Jarran Reed started the first three games at defensive tackle before a hip injury kept him out of the win over the Jets. He was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice.
“Yeah, he looks good,” Carroll said, adding it will be important to see how Reed comes out of Wednesday’s work. “Trainers think he’s in good shape and ready to go. We anticipate that he’ll be able to contribute” Sunday.
Atlanta practiced Wednesday at Husky Stadium, where the Falcons will be all week. Top wide receiver Julio Jones did not participate in practice, according to Atlanta’s report, because of a knee injury.
The Falcons did make Jones available to talk to the Seattle-area media on Wednesday. That is an indication he will play Sunday in a highly anticipated matchup with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle