A kickoff effort to plan immediate aid and develop long-term support for earthquake-ravaged Haiti got underway on January 25, the day students got back to class after winter break.
I sat in as some 20 students, administrators and staff started planning a universitywide response. “How do we give students the opportunity to help,” asked Brian Schlemmer, a Theo student and fellow with Drew’s Center for Civic Engagement, “and build long-term partnerships, including taking a group of students to Haiti?”
The group, which included administrators such as Amy Koritz, director of Drew’s Center for Civic Engagement, and Associate Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs Frank Merckx, devoted itself to narrowing down possibilities for groups it’ll consider for partnerships, including Shalom Haiti, part of the national Communities of Shalom organization based at Drew and headed by Professor Michael Christensen.
“There’s also been faculty interest in providing educational opportunities about Haiti [here on campus],” said Koritz, whose center will coordinate those programs.
For the short term, attendees brainstormed fundraising ideas tied to Drew spring events, such as concerts, Pub events and the second annual Arts of Respect competition. Said University Chaplain Tanya Bennett, “We should tap into things that already exist since that’s not that much time.”
The group plans to meet again the week of February 1. We’ll bring you more on Drew’s Haitian relief efforts as they unfold.—Renée Olson, Editor, Drew Magazine