December 02, 2013

Two Students Organize Philippines Relief Fund

Susi Vasquez, Civil Engineering '15, holds one of the donation boxes currently located around campus

In the face of tragedy, Wentworth students have proven that they are willing to do what it takes to help those in need. When a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines last month, two students, Susi Vasquez and Nicole Woodside, immediately stepped forward to help.

Vasquez, Civil Engineering Technology ’15, could relate all too well to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan that she read about in the news. She lived for 10 years in the Philippines and witnessed firsthand the havoc that a flood once wreaked.

“It was terrible,” she said of the event she experienced as a child. “The infrastructure in the Philippines is so poor that the damage is often catastrophic with these types of storms.”

While she has never been to the Philippines, Woodside, Facilities Planning and Management BFPM ’17, felt the same urge to help as Vasquez. “The first thing I wanted to do was join the Red Cross emergency relief team and actually go to the Philippines,” she said.

Realizing that traveling to the country at this time was unrealistic for her, Woodside considered a food drive but quickly learned that sending actual goods into the country can be tricky due to corruption and theft at the ground level. Vasquez faced a similar dilemma. “I immediately wanted to donate, but I didn’t know how,” she said.

Both Woodside and Vasquez independently contacted Annamaria Wenner, dean of students, who suggested Red Cross donation boxes and put the two students in touch with one another.

The fundraiser is the first that either student has run, but both have experience in charity work with Vasquez having completed community service in Mission Hill through the American Society of Civil Engineers and Woodside volunteering to help the homeless in Boston. Dean Wenner is also assisting with the process.

Donation boxes are currently placed around campus in Dean Wenner’s office, the office of the Admissions Department, the Info Hub desk and the cafeteria in the Flanagan Campus Center, and the Housing Office. Students, faculty, and staff are urged to donate whatever they can. Monies raised go directly to the Red Cross to help pay for relief work and there is currently no date set to end the donation period.

“My only goal is to help those who have lost anything at all—whether loved ones or teddy bears,” said Woodside. “I can only imagine how scary the whole experience was and I just want them to know that they are not alone.”

Vasquez still has family in the Philippines, but said that none were very close to the typhoon’s epicenter. She also said that while she is not able to immediately volunteer physically, she has spoken to family there about traveling in the near future.

“We know it’s a busy time for people with the holidays, but whatever you can give is great,” said Vasquez. “We hope the boxes make it easier for people to help. We not only want to help fix what’s happened there, but we hope to prevent this kind of damage from occurring in the future.”

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