MIAMI, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to the crisis in Haiti, St. Thomas University stands in solidarity and support of its Haitian and Haitian American brothers and sisters. The University will continue its long-term educational and economic development projects in Haiti while also assisting with urgent needs. Below is a summary of the University's efforts both short and long term with regard to the needs in Haiti.
Immediate Crisis Relief & Support Efforts
- STU is serving as a Family Reunification Site, at the request of the Florida Department of Children & Families, where Haitian American family members are reunited and assisted with document processing.
- STU student and alum counselor volunteers are providing grief counseling services to families at the Family Reunification Site.
- Campus priests are providing spiritual support and counseling to the families at the Family Reunification Site.
- The School of Law Human Rights Institute is conducting a large-scale processing of newly-arrived Haitians seeking Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Approximately 300 individuals will be assisted with TPS processing this Saturday, January 30. Over 50 STU volunteers will provide support at this event.
- A monetary collection drive is underway. Individuals may leave donations at three sites on campus: the Office of Campus Ministry, the Law Library, and the Marketplace Cafe.
- A payroll deduction plan has been initiated for those wishing to contribute in that manner.
- The Kreyol Nation Haitian student organization at STU will conduct a cash-sponsored walk-a-thon on February 19.
- A Prayer Vigil and Candle Walk was held on January 21st attended by a large number of students, faculty, and staff.
- A support quilt is being constructed on the STU campus; upon completion it will be sent to Haiti. The campus community is encouraged to participate.
- A Campus Community Meeting will be held on Thursday, January 28, to educate the campus with regard to our long-term projects with Haiti and to encourage donations and prayer in support of Haiti.
- Upon request, STU will provide direct support and supplies to our Haitian/Haitian American students and staff affected by the natural disaster.
- A weekly Mass will be dedicated to the people of Haiti throughout 2010.
Long-Term Educational and Economic Support Efforts
St. Thomas University's involvement in Haiti advocacy efforts dates to the 1980s when Archbishop Edward McCarthy visited Port-de-Paix, the country's poorest diocese. Upon assessing the people's plight, McCarthy created a "sister-diocese" relationship between the Archdiocese of Miami and the Diocese of Port-de-Paix. As Florida's archdiocesan university, St. Thomas has developed several projects in line with Archbishop's McCarthy's effort to help create sustainability in Haiti.
- STU supports Haiti Tech, a trade school built by an alliance of South Florida businesses and six Haitian business associations. The University provides consultation and education with regard to board governance, managerial issues and strategic planning.
- STU is associated with Fonkoze – a successful microfinance organization in Haiti that provides small business development loans to the poorest of the poor. The University supports the bank through board governance and financial donations for micro loans.
- Through its work with three cooperative projects in Haiti, the University provides marketing/public relations, business consultation, and business development services to the people of Haiti while at the same time providing a meaningful service learning experience for both graduate and undergraduate students:
- The Women's Artisan Project provides skill development and meaningful income to some of Haiti's most marginalized workers.
- The Solar Energy Project protects trees from being cut down for charcoal while also creating a revenue stream through the sale of baked goods.
- The Fair-Trade Coffee Project provides income to farmers throughout the region, as well as encourages reforestation of the North West's mountains.
SOURCE St. Thomas University