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News and Events

Helping Haiti: A Community Responds

by Denise Alexander

From the moment the first images of the human suffering and physical devastation caused by the Haitian earthquake reached the outside world, the response has been a massive outpouring of humanitarian aid.

At Marymount, efforts to help began just days after the catastrophic earthquake hit on January 12. With government agencies and relief groups urging monetary contributions as the best way to help, Marymount’s initial goals were to raise funds and to support the Haitian people with the power of prayer.

On the weekend after the quake, donations for Haiti relief were accepted at Sunday Masses in the Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel and at a home basketball doubleheader. Contributions were also collected at an ecumenical prayer service for the victims and survivors of the earthquake; at the University’s annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and on an ongoing basis at the Campus Ministry Office.

Early in the fundraising efforts, Marymount President James E. Bundschuh pledged that the University would match student and employee contributions, up to a total of $10,000. The campus community rose to the challenge, and $11,417 was collected during the late- January drive. Thus, Marymount was able to provide a total contribution of more than $21,000, which was divided among Catholic Relief Services, the American Red Cross, and the Haitian Project.

And some members of the Marymount community felt the need to do something more “handson.” Students and faculty in the Physical Therapy department quickly began collecting orthopedic supplies – including crutches, walkers, canes, braces, and splints – to be delivered to an organization providing medical care in Haiti.

Senior Chardelle Moore also took immediate action. A native of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Chardelle currently holds the title Miss Caribbean Metro USA. When the scope of the disaster in Haiti became evident, she says, “I had to use my title and the public forum it gives me to make a difference.”

So she organized a grass-roots effort on campus to collect survival items, including clothing, toiletries, baby formula, and first aid supplies. With the help of fellow students, faculty, and the University’s administration, Chardelle was able to gather six carloads of critically needed supplies and deliver them to the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC.

For Jean-marc Leger, a Business Administration major, the earthquake struck even closer to home. In response to President Bundschuh’s announcement that Marymount would match student and employee donations, he wrote the following e-mail: “I am Jean-marc Leger from Haiti, a senior at Marymount. I wanted to thank you for being so supportive. I have been in contact with Dean Ryerson and Dr. England and they have done everything possible to help me. My family is safe but we have lost our homes and businesses. I have been trying to raise as much funds as possible to send to the Red Cross and other organizations helping Haiti. Thank you for making Marymount a part of this effort.”

Through his internship, Jean-marc found another way to help his homeland. He spent the spring semester interning at DMS International, a consulting firm with a project focused on rebuilding Haiti. The project’s goal: to design efficient, earthquake-safe buildings.

Reflecting on the earthquake and its aftermath, President Bundschuh says, “The magnitude of the devastation and human tragedy in Haiti is almost incomprehensible. We are comforted by knowing that our efforts – combined with those of others all around the world – are making a difference. The Marymount community will continue to keep the Haitian people in our prayers, and we will look for more ways to help as the recovery and rebuilding continue.”