Global Perspective

USF Sends Relief to Haiti

by Edward Carpenter

When University of San Francisco sophomores Kalie Patterson and Annie Tull returned to campus after the Christmas holiday break, one of the first things they did was brainstorm how they could help Haiti after a devastating earthquake there Jan. 12.

With support from University Ministry Resident Minister Intern Stephen Gotfredson, MA ’09, and Barbara St. Marie, assistant director of USF’s St. Ignatius Institute, the idea of a Haiti relief bingo fundraiser, with dinner, raffle, and auction was born.

Law Students Assist Haitians

University of San Francisco School of Law students spent spring break in Miami helping Haitians apply for temporary protected status (TPS) in the U.S.

Students participated in cases involving immigration intake, submission, and U.S. citizenship application. Before finalizing applications, they spent three days in Miami’s Little Haiti handing out fliers, knocking on doors, and conducting client interviews, said law student Christine Start.

"Volunteering in Miami helping Haitian nationals apply for temporary protected status has been an incredibly educational and humbling experience," Start said.

The program, designed by the University of Miami School of Law's Health and Elder Law Clinic, offered practical experience for USF law students while serving Haitians affected by January's earthquake.

The inspiration for the fundraiser first come to Patterson and Tull when Patterson’s father, a Presbyterian minister, called on his parishioners on the Sunday following the temblor to give something up to help those in Haiti. “I'm Catholic but whenever I go to visit the Pattersons we all go to church and Mr. Patterson's sermons are always moving,” Tull said.

The fundraiser was a raging success, surpassing its goal of raising $10,000. More than 350 people attended the Feb. 26 bingo event, buying more than 1,000 raffle tickets. All told, the relief fundraiser brought in more than $18,000, which was donated to Jesuit Refuge Service/USA. Among the dozens of bingo prizes were a $100 gift card to Sports Basement, and raffle and auction prizes including two Golden Gate Warriors tickets and a sailboat cruise on the San Francisco Bay for six people.

Convincing the more than 35 businesses that donated to the cause was surprisingly easy. ”Once we said Haiti, they were all about whatever it was we were doing,” Gotfredson said. “The response we received from the San Francisco community was something very special.”

In the immediate wake of the earthquake, JRS has used funds, such as those donated by the USF community, to provide emergency food relief to about 50,000 Haitians and pay affiliated medical personnel to treat about 4,500 Haitians injured in the quake and its aftermath. In the coming weeks and months, JRS plans to provide trauma counseling and improve the infrastructure of at least 12 educational centers by building new classrooms or repairing school buildings damaged in the quake, according to its Web site.