Thursday, December 5, 2013
Staff photo by David Leaming HELPING OUT: Colby College student Justin Rouse holds up a shirt to staff member Robert Hernandez who bought two on Friday at the Cotter Union on campus in Waterville. Students are hoping shirt sales and donations from the student body and staff will reach $25,000 and go to assist victims in Haiti.
WATERVILLE — For Jessica Frick and Yanica Faustin, it's personal.
The Colby College seniors were among those in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when last month's devastating earthquake struck, leading to a death toll as high as 200,000 and leaving hundreds of thousands injured and in need of shelter, food and water.
Now that they are back for their final semester at Colby, Frick and Faustin are among a group of students -- led by Colby's Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement -- who have organized a series of initiatives for the college and greater Waterville community aimed at raising money for Haiti relief. Their efforts will culminate with a benefit dinner later this month.
At that event, Frick and Faustin will speak about their experience of surviving the earthquake and witnessing the devastation while they were in Port-au-Prince, visiting members of Faustin's Haitian family.
All told, the Colby students hope to raise $25,000, which would be donated to the Stand for Haiti Campaign of Partners in Health. About $7,000 has been raised so far.
''I want people to know,'' Frick said. ''They need food and water and shelter.''
The Goldfarb Center was behind previous fundraising relief efforts on campus, such as those for victims of Hurricane Katrina, said student Danny Garin, who is heading the Haitian relief effort with student Lisa Kaplan.
Garin said the center's director, government professor L. Sandy Maisel, contacted the center's student advisory board soon after the quake struck and began planning.
To raise money from students, the group has been selling ''Help Haiti'' T-shirts, donated by Black Dog Graphics of Clinton, for donations of $10 or more. As of late last week, more than 500 of the 600 available shirts had been ordered and more would likely be on the way, Garin said.
All students and staff who purchased T-shirts were asked to wear them last Friday ''to show our solidarity as a community with the distraught nation,'' Garin said.
In the coming week, students wearing the ''Help Haiti'' T-shirts will go out into the community -- Waterville and beyond -- stopping by local businesses to ask if they will be corporate sponsors.
The main event, though, is the ''Colby for Haiti'' benefit dinner scheduled for Feb. 26 in Page Commons.
The program will feature four campus a capella groups, the Colby Jazz Quartet and student-athletes dressed in uniform serving as waitstaff.
A regional representative from Partners in Health will also speak at the event, Garin said.
The dinner, which is open to the public, will seat up to 240 people. Ticket prices are $40 per seat or $300 for a table of eight. The event will begin with a silent auction.
Colby College President William ''Bro'' Adams and the college's food service provider, Sodexho, are covering the cost of the dinner, Garin said.
But the efforts won't end with the dinner. Garin said other college groups are getting involved to raise money, and college officials are offering to assist students who want to directly help in the relief effort, such as traveling to Florida to prepare care packages.
''We know the need won't stop after our benefit,'' Garin said. ''We're not just going to stop; we'll provide all the support we can.''
For Frick, seeing Haiti's poverty and plight has motivated her to help. Frick said fundraising efforts for Haiti are also important as news coverage of the earthquake's aftermath ''seems less about what they need and more focused on crime and the negative.''
''Maybe,'' she said, ''what we need is more emphasis on what Haiti could be instead of what it is.''