After the 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti last month, Karl Brisseaux ‘11, a mechanical engineering student with relatives living in Haiti, had great difficulty watching the coverage on TV.
“I have a lot of relatives in Haiti—most of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and so forth live there,” says Brisseaux. “Most of our family lives in the south and the southeast, in places like Jacmel and Marigot, and a few of our family members did live in Port-Au-Prince.”
There were anxious moments in the hours and days after the earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince as Brisseaux awaited word on his relatives.
“It took two days before we heard anything at all, and naturally it took a little longer to hear back from family in Port-Au-Prince,” recalls Brisseaux. “Fortunately, most of the people we know are doing OK, but we lost some extended family on my father’s side.”
Brisseaux, a head Gryphon who also works for the Brown and Black student newspaper and for support groups for sexual assault victims, decided to help Lehigh raise money for the people of Haiti after the earthquake. He reached out to the groups he is involved with and also to Carolina Hernandez, director of the community service office.
As a result, representatives from Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the Gryphon Society, the Neuroscience Club and other campus groups met to discuss fundraising options. They set a goal of raising $50,000 and came up with ideas for benefit events.
“We are excited to help the people of Haiti in any way possible,” says Hernandez. “We’ve set a lofty goal of raising $50,000 for Haiti this semester. That’s only $10 per student. That small amount can make a huge difference in helping people rebuild their lives.”
All of the donations will be assigned to an account designated for Haiti relief. Information on Lehigh’s efforts can be found on the community service office Web site, which is being regularly updated with events and developments.
“I think this says a lot about Lehigh,” says Brisseaux. “It’s encouraging to see so many people engaged and excited about helping out, and it demonstrates the willingness of our student body to come together for good causes.”
The community service office has assigned graduate student Brittany Grimaldi to the Haiti fundraising project and has placed a thermometer on its Web site that tallies the amount of funds raised. As of Feb. 8, $4,472 had been collected.
A survey will help determine where Lehigh’s funds will be designated. Those making donations can complete the survey and voice their opinion on which organization should receive Lehigh’s donation.
Anyone with questions or with fundraising ideas should contact Brisseaux or Grimaldi.
Story by Bill Doherty
Posted on Friday, February 12, 2010