Willimantic, CT - On Dec. 8 in the Betty R. Tipton Room., students from Eastern Connecticut State University and local community members raised more than $500 during "This Too Shall Pass," Eastern's second Help for Haiti Benefit Concert. Eastern will donate $350 of the amount raised toward building a house in Haiti; the remaining money will be donated to the Haitian Health Foundation. An estimated three million people were affected by the earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 of this year. The Haitian government reported that an estimated 230,000 people died; 300,000 were injured; and 1,000,000 were left homeless. Today, cholera is claiming scores of lives daily.
Eastern's Center for Community Engagement and the Office of Housing and Residential Life sponsored the event. Maiyah Gamble-Rivers '12, Robert Closs '12, Brittney Cava '12 and Colin Doherty '10 organized the concert. Roland Blocker '12 hosted the event.
"After hearing all this news, I knew it was time to band together to support those people who are still suffering," said Closs, a sociology major from East Hartford and vice president of M.A.L.E.S., a student group on campus. "The Haitian people still need much support and help. This event is meant to open people's eyes to the catastrophe that happened and come together so we can help those in need."
"Our first event was successful, but I knew that there was more work to be done," said Gamble-Rivers, a junior art history major from Providence, RI. "We are trying to raise money to help rebuild a country, but, more importantly, we are celebrating the strength of Haiti!"
"I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for attending this event," said Joanna Auriantal, Occum Residence Hall Director. "My husband and children are Haitian, and when the earthquake struck, my heart broke. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it is wonderful to see everyone here who came out tonight."
Stefan Wawzyniecki Jr., a representative of the Norwich, CT-based Haitian Health Foundation, delivered the keynote address, informing the audience about the current situation and the volunteer efforts in Haiti. "While in Haiti, my daughter met a 19-year-old boy whose leg had been trapped underneath the rubble of a building that collapsed in the earthquake. His brother found a hammer and had to amputate the boy's leg because it could not be moved. However, this story has a happy ending. After seeking medical attention and going to the Haitian Health Foundation, he was able to get a prosthetic leg within three days."
Haitian native Claude Michelle Aubourg from Elmwood Avenue Church of God in Providence, RI, recited a prayer in Creole. Heavenly Praises from the Elmwood Avenue Church of God and Eastern's New Element Drill Team performed. Marcus O'Neal '12 presented an original poem titled "Flowetry," and Jennifer Succi '11 read poems with themes focused on leading life with love and conviction.
Desiree Battle '14 sang about love and hope; Stephanie Canada '12 performed acoustic versions of George Michael's "Faith" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"; Eastern's female a capella group, "Key of She," sang "Stand By Me" and "In My Life"; and Jordan Lorrius '11 and Matthew Grosjean '11 performed original songs, "Innocence" and "Haiti Canpe," with their band, the Phantoms. Father Larry LaPointe of Eastern's Campus Ministry closed the event with a prayer.
During the performances, volunteers sold ribbons, bracelets and dolls to support relief efforts in Haiti. The Hoot, Fred's Brick House Café, Angelino's, Asian Bistro, Tony's Pizza, Mansfield Restaurant, Mansfield Movieplex and Eastern students and faculty donated to the silent auction.