Campus: CSU Fresno -- December 15, 2005

Fresno State Volunteers to Help Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery Effort; Parent/Student Groups Donate $13,000

Volunteers seek another $32,000 to send full contingency of 50 students

California State University, Fresno is partnering with several campus and community groups to send at least 25 students – and possibly as many as 50 if enough funds are raised – next month to help the rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

The university’s hurricane-recovery volunteers – who with three to four staff and faculty volunteers will depart on Jan. 5 for Slidell, Louisiana and return to Fresno on Jan. 15 -- announced a drive to raise $45,000 for the trip, or individual donations of $800 per student.
The Office of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State, along with a number of student organizations, and University HOPE, a nonprofit university based organization that builds homes for low-income families, are organizing the trip.

Fresno State employee Dan Griffin, who is a board member for University HOPE and has been spearheading the project, said organizers had originally set a goal of raising funds for about 15 to 20 students and have succeeded in raising $13,000 so far. But 50 students have signed on.
Today, he and several of the student volunteers joined Dr. Jeronima Echeverria, Fresno State provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Chris Fiorentino, director of CESL, at a press conference to ask for public support to send 35 more students.

”The interest from the students was overwhelming after we made announcements on campus,” Griffin said. “Now we have almost 50 students who want to volunteer. We want to take all of these students. For each $800 we raise, we can take another student above the 15 covered.”
Griffin announced the following support for the trip to Louisiana to date:

• •A $5,000 donation from the Fresno State Parents Association that was presented at the press conference today;
• A $4,000 grant from the university’s “Instructionally Related Activities” fund, a student fee-based pool of money distributed by the Associated Students, the university’s student government, that is designed to support unique ways of engaging students in learning;
• $4,000 from individuals and various campus groups, including $1,000 from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Fresno State. A number of fraternity members will be among the volunteers, said SAE vice president Isaac Lopez, who is also a student senator.

Griffin said the $45,000 will cover all the costs of travel, lodging, food and building supplies and enable about 50 students, especially those without the financial means, to volunteer for this project. The volunteers will utilize three to four recreational vehicles to allow them to be self-sufficient, bring all the necessary tools and supplies, and be able to stay right at the work site, which will help keep costs to a minimum.

He explained that the volunteers will focus their efforts on helping low income families and senior residents in Slidell, a city of 30,000 just north of New Orleans, across Lake Pontchartrain.

The Fresno State group will partner with Habitat for Humanity, the United Methodist Storm Relief Association, the Slidell Parish Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Charities, the Slidell Rotary Club and Lutheran Ministries to identify families needing assistance in renovating their homes damaged by the hurricanes.

“We feel that this trip will demonstrate the compassion and desire of our students to help those who need help the most,” Griffin said.

In addition to Sigma Alpha Epsilon, other student organizations helping recruit and select volunteers as well as raise funds to support this project include Sigma Nu fraternity, Lutheran Campus Ministries, Circle K (Kiwanis), Fresno State Minority Engineering Program, the Army ROTC and the Catholic Students Association of the St. Paul Newman Center.

He added that the group hopes to raise an additional $10,000 to help low-income families in Slidell purchase appliances and other household items.

“Contributions of food, tools, building supplies, gasoline in addition to financial contributions also are greatly appreciated,” Griffin said

Those interested in donating money or supplies can contact Melissa Dittmar at or Dr. Daniel Griffin at danielg@csufresno or 559.278.0839.

Contact: Tom Uribes (559) 278-5366 or 246-1717

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