To the Editor:
Like many of you, just weeks ago I was wrapping up my summer job and getting ready to go back to school. I would normally be e-mailing this letter to the editor from my university account, but I cannot: Like most things in New Orleans, it is down and broken indefinitely. As I sit at home here in Michigan, the scenes on television seem almost surreal. I hesitate to believe that the city I have grown to love over the past two years is in such a devastated state. Many of my fellow emergency medical technicians from Tulane are down there, helping to evacuate hospitals. On the rare occasions when their cell phones work, I am met with the grim tone that I have come to expect. So I ask myself: Can I really just sit here and do nothing? I cannot.
Three of my friends and I have been working 18-hour days since the hurricane hit, setting up a unique, nonprofit hurricane relief effort called NOLA Hurricane Fund (www.nolahurricanefund.org). Its focus is on students, particularly those of New Orleans, working together to rebuild their home. All of us feel extremely passionate about this cause, and though colleges around the country have opened their doors to our student body, we have each decided that we cannot leave the city and its residents to fend for themselves. Therefore, we are taking off the next semester (or year, depending) in order to focus solely on the relief and rebuilding process.
We are an official nonprofit operating under Tulane’s service program. We have already raised thousands of dollars, and we are dedicated to our city for many years to come. Eventually, the heroic Red Cross workers will leave. Tulane will still be there with a committed student body, giving itself to its community.
On a different note, this issue is very personal to me. I taught math this past summer at Breakthrough Atlanta, a program for public school students with potential who might not have had many resources in the past. There is also a branch in New Orleans, and many of its students are those who probably didn’t get out.
We as college students simply cannot stand idly by as many suffer so acutely. If you believe in the power of young people making a substantial difference in this world, then we need your help. Please spread the word about our Web site and help support students working together to rebuild New Orleans.
Sept. 3, 2005
The writer is a junior at Tulane University in New Orleans.