Brooklyn, N.Y.— The willingness of the Brooklyn College community to lend a helping hand in the wake of natural and manmade disasters was tested this year, perhaps more than at any time in the college’s history. Calls for aid in 2010 came from as near as Flatbush Junction and as far away as Pakistan, and the college community displayed its penchant for generosity.
The year had barely begun when a massive earthquake struck Haiti, home to hundreds of the community’s members. The 7.0 temblor leveled the capital city of Port-au-Prince, killing at least 200,000, injuring 300,000 and leaving nearly one million people homeless.
Within days of the quake, “more than 100 people and representatives of student organizations donated what they could in a very short period of time,” said Jennifer Rubain, formerly director of the college’s Office of Diversity and Equity Programs and now CUNY’s dean of recruitment and diversity.
“We were shocked by the response,” she noted, adding that Haitian-born Francelene Louis, ’03, who works as a translator for NOVA Hope for Haiti, had estimated the value of Brooklyn College’s donations at about $25,000.
Later in the year, flooding overwhelmed Pakistan and storms ravaged Florida. These disasters, too, drew donations from members of the Brooklyn College community, as did the scourge of HIV/AIDS that is wracking Honduras.
The college also focused on more local needs by holding blood drives throughout the year; toy drives kicked in during the holiday season. The college also joined with Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs in a drive to restock shelves of 14 Brooklyn food pantries that had been impacted by the extraordinary demand triggered by the recession. Reports indicate that more than three million people, almost 40 percent of all New Yorkers, are having trouble affording food — a 60 percent increase since 2003.
“This year, because of the college’s commitment to its partners in the community and the continuing recession, President Karen Gould felt that we should hold weeklong food drives in the spring and in the fall, when we collected 1,350 to 1,400 items, which we distributed,” said Bonnie Impagliazzo, director of government and external affairs. “This year’s food drives attracted a growing number of students.”
Finally, this fall’s 27th annual CUNY Campaign for Voluntary Charitable Giving received a big boost at Brooklyn College, thanks to a personal appeal from President Gould.
In a letter to the college community, Gould wrote: “I encourage your participation in this fall’s CUNY Campaign, which sustains hundreds of organizations that provide assistance in our community, nationwide and around the world.”
Says Impagliazzo, “The final figures aren’t in yet, but we’re hoping for broader participation and increased donations as a result of President Gould’s backing and the energetic campaign captains who have been hard at work encouraging faculty and staff to support the campaign.”