NYU’s Latin American Clubs Raise Funds in Wake of Irma

Caroline Haskins
Satellite image of Hurricane Irma heading to Florida on Thursday, September 7th, 2017

One week after Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean, Latin America and the Southeastern United States with Category 5 force, NYU’s fundraising efforts for the hurricane’s victims are well underway.

Students in Latinos Unidos con Honor y Amistad collaborated with Bella Quisqueya, Sigma Iota Alpha, the Haitian Students Association and the Caribbean Students Association with the goal of raising $5,000 for Irma relief in Antigua and Barbuda. Barbuda government officials said 90 percent of Barbuda was destroyed by Irma.

Brittany Baez, a Steinhardt senior and member of Sigma Iota Alpha, said that she has been pleased by the student response to the fundraiser.

“An NYU student came up and said that her grandmother lives in Antigua and that it meant a lot to her that we’re doing this fundraiser,” Baez said. “Another student was in a rush to meet a friend, but stopped to donate $10 because she felt like it was important and wanted to help in any way that she could.”

Steinhardt senior Carmen Marazzi started a GoFundMe page to help raise money. She said she was inspired to help the alliance out of frustration that Hurricane Irma coverage was U.S.-centric.

“I’m from Puerto Rico, so watching the news and seeing it was all about Florida was relatively frustrating for me, because I knew they weren’t gonna get hit [for] another week,” Marazzi said. “Irma didn’t hit my home as bad, thank God. It could’ve been a lot worse. But then I saw Barbuda completely destroyed.”

Marazzi’s GoFundMe page has raised $750, in addition to over $600 in cash donations collected in two-hour daily shifts at Kimmel since Sept. 11. Venmo and Square cash donations, designed to help students passing the Kimmel table in a rush, have raised $86 as of Sept. 14. Venmo donations are directed to @Brittany-Baez. As of Sept. 14, a total of $1,351.75 had been raised.

Proceeds from this fundraising effort will either go to The Ebenezer Pilgrim Holiness Church, whose members intend to visit Antigua and Barbuda and provide labor toward relief efforts, and Project Hope, a nonprofit organization that assists in the wake of natural disasters around the globe.

NYU’s Latino fraternity, Phi Iota Alpha, is heading its own fundraiser in which proceeds will go to UNICEF, which will provide water pumps to vulnerable Latin American and Caribbean communities whose infrastructure was destroyed after Harvey.

The group has raised $48 of its $1,000 goal as of Sunday. But according to Ricardo Canello III, a CAS senior and member of Phi Iota Alpha, the fraternity will continue the fundraiser as long as necessary until the $1,000 goal is met.

“[Latin American communities] need that water not just for themselves, but for their economy too,” Canello said. “Without clean water, their crops are not gonna be able to grow. Their economy is gonna suffer as a result of the hurricanes, and it just becomes a bad situation for everybody involved.”

Canello also said that he hopes students who see fundraising links in the NYU class Facebook pages do not just scroll past them.

“Just looking at this and reading it and realizing there’s a problem — it’s not enough,” Canello said. “The money needs to come through. We don’t need likes. We don’t need people to just read it and be like, ‘Oh my God.’ We do not need pity — we need action.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday Sept, 17 print edition. Email Caroline Haskins at [email protected]

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