Campus Plots Katrina Response


A capacity crowd of primarily NMU students filled the Peter White Lounge of the University Center Wednesday night to plot campus relief efforts in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

The NMU Volunteer Center facilitated the meeting. Co-director Brianne Rogers said, “We wanted to give student organizations an opportunity to connect with community leaders and form groups that can work on developing successful programs for fundraising, collecting needed items, or other forms of assistance that will help those impacted by the hurricane.”


Several ideas that surfaced through small-group discussions were divided into four broad categories and addressed in more detail. The categories include community drives to obtain clothing, food and other needed supplies; fundraising campaigns that range from selling ribbons and bracelets to various methods of collecting donations; major events that could be coordinated to generate hurricane relief funds; and comfort kits that will contain toiletries and personal hygiene products. The Central Upper Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross is trying to contribute a total of 8,500 comfort kits to impacted residents. The goal is to have 2,000 assembled at NMU.


To obtain contact information for individuals who have volunteered to chair the four areas, contact the Volunteer Center at ext. 2466.

Though far-removed geographically, NMU student and New Orleans native Jennifer Duquesnay Kirk (right) said the impact of Katrina hits close to home. Ironically, Kirk lives in the Bourbon Street house in Spooner Hall. Its murals depicting the city’s festive side contrast sharply with the distressing media images she confronts daily as she monitors the situation from a distance.


“It’s very out of control and I’ve only had contact with those who’ve safely evacuated the area,” Kirk said. “I had to stop watching the television news accounts because they’re so dramatized. Still photos are easier to digest somehow. It’s scary, though; I’m up here, but could have easily been a part of it because I would have gone to the University of New Orleans if I hadn’t enrolled at Northern.”


Kirk is pictured with purple, yellow and green ribbons – a nod to traditional Mardi Gras colors – being sold by Spooner Hall residents. She said they’ve raised more than $190 so far and will contribute all proceeds to the Red Cross.


Deanna Hemmila (Alumni Relations) said more than 100 alumni families live in areas directly impacted by Katrina. Students working for the NMU Foundation call center are also trying to touch base with graduates in affected areas to see how they’re doing and express support on behalf of NMU. Other alumni are assisting in relief efforts. For example, recent graduates of the electrical line technician program are working in Louisiana and Mississippi to restore electrical power.


An alumna who taught at an elementary school in New Orleans shared her perspective and her concern for the safety of students and their families, most of whom live in poverty and weren’t able to evacuate. Her comments can be found at What's New, NMU?


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Updated: October 26, 2005

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