In the aftermath of back-to-back hurricane catastrophes that battered regions of Texas, Louisiana and Florida, a group of Yale graduate students is planning an event to raise money for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
According to Julian Gomes SOM ’18, an organizer of the event and co-chair of the School of Management’s Food and Wine Club, the fundraiser will take place on the evening of Sept. 22 at Gryphon’s Pub at GPSCY, a bar and social area for Yale graduate students. Attendees will be required to pay a minimum of $5 for entry, but are encouraged to donate as much as they can, Gomes said, adding that the goal is to raise $5,000.
“I’ve relished the opportunity to work with the rest of the planning committee to iron out the details and publicize this event across all of the graduate and professional school,” said Grace Batiste SOM ’18, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate community service chair. “I’m also thrilled at the degree of support that we’ve gotten from everyone involved, particularly the student body, GPSCY and The Yale Texas Society.”
The Texas Society set a precedent for the upcoming event when they held two fundraisers for the victims of Hurricane Harvey over the past two weeks, setting high expectations when they raised around $3,300 over the last week. The proceeds of the graduate student fundraiser will go towards the One America Appeal, a joint appeal by all five living former U.S. presidents to encourage citizens to support recovery efforts from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to Gomes.
According to Winnie Jiang GRD ’20, also an event organizer and a fellow at the McDougal Graduate Student Center, the event is being hosted by students from the University’s Graduate and Professional Student Senate, the McDougal Graduate Student Center and the SOM Food and Wine Club.
According to Gomes, GPSCY will not be charging the organizers any fee for reserving space for the event. In addition, the bar will offer a special $2 rate on house drinks for the night, Jiang said.
Esteban Elizondo ’18, a member of The Texas Society at Yale, said the society has given the organizers of the GPSCY fundraiser access to its Venmo and bank accounts to collect funds.
“We will be keeping in touch with the [event organizers] to ensure the funds they raise go to the organizations they want to support,” Elizondo said. “Regarding organization though, all credit goes to the SOM and graduate Texans who have no doubt spent countless hours in the last couple weeks organizing this event. I’m looking forward to seeing how successful it is.”
According to an estimate by Risk Management Solutions, a catastrophe modeling company, Hurricane Harvey has caused between $70 billion and $90 billion in economic damage. AIR Worldwide, another catastrophe modeling firm, predicts that Irma could cause anywhere between $15 billion and $50 billion worth of uninsured losses in the U.S., and up to $65 billion when counting damage in the Caribbean.
Seventy people have been confirmed dead as a result of Hurricane Harvey, according to NBC. Twelve people in the U.S. have been killed as a result of Hurricane Irma, and at least 37 more people died throughout the Caribbean, according to ABC News.
All funds collected through the One America Appeal will go into a special account at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, to “ensure 100 cents out of every dollar donated goes to hurricane victims,” according to a website set up for the campaign. The funds will be distributed immediately to the designated recovery funds and all donations will be tax-deductible, the website says.
In Texas, all donations collected through the One America Appeal will go the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund focusing on the Greater Houston region and the Rebuild Texas Fund assisting communities across the state. In Florida, funds will go to the Florida Disaster Fund, which is the state’s official private fund to assist the state’s communities as they recover from destructive storms.
“It’s a fund that’s been launched by the five living former presidents … so it sounded bipartisan and we thought that was a good cause,” Gomes said. “Obviously, at the moment, politics is very divided in the U.S., and this is something that seemed to be bringing people together.”
Students interviewed praised Yalies — both undergraduates and graduate students — organizing fundraising efforts for the victims of Harvey and Irma.
“I’m proud students are mobilizing in order to provide support to the victims of recent hurricane attacks,” said Jorge Anaya ’19. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but I think the students here can actually make a difference.”
Sunnie Liu ’21, a Houston native, said she is glad that Yale students are uniting to help provide support for hurricane victims. Liu added that while donations help, she hopes some people will “take the extra step” and volunteer to assist those in the affected areas.
Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are the only Category 4 Atlantic storms to have ever hit the U.S. in the same year.
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