CMC Students to Spend Fall Break Aiding Hurricane Relief Efforts

A group of 21 CMC students will travel to Mississippi during fall break to offer humanitarian assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The students all volunteerswill aid in the relief effort in and around the stricken town of Kiln, Miss., by clearing trees, debris, and trash and volunteering with food distribution in area shelters. Kiln, a town situated 15 miles from the Gulf Coast, was devastated by the storms.

The students will leave for Mississippi by air on Oct. 13, and make their base of operations a tent city, under the auspices of FEMA, on the outskirts of Kiln, before returning Oct. 18.

“So many students applied for the trip that nearly 30 had to be turned down due to size and funding restrictions,” said Aria Ash-Rafzadeh ’06, co-group leader of the student effort with Candice Camargo ’07. “Each individual in the group of selected students possesses tremendous leadership capacity, compassion, and dedication.”

In addition to their travels, CMC students through various CMC-sponsored campus activities the past several weeks including a faculty-staff-student barbecue, candy-grams, and dance also have collectively fundraised about $5,000 to donate toward Hurricane Katrina relief.

Sponsorship for the week long trip to Mississippi has been fielded from numerous campus offices, including the Office of the President, the Dean of Students office, and the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights.

Ash-Rafzadeh and Camargo both credit Jim Nauls, assistant dean of students for student activities and apartment housing, as being a key motivator in making the Mississippi visit possible. “He has offered guidance every step of the way, from the application and interview process, to working out logistical details, to addressing the challenge of funding the trip,” Camargo said.

The volunteer process began when an application was e-mailed to the CMC student body and 44 students applied and were interviewed. Based on the strength of written applications and interviews, final decisions were made.

“We have a group of incredibly passionate, dedicated, and motivated students who are determined to serve the individuals affected by this disaster in whatever capacity is most effective and necessary,” Ash-Rafzadeh said.

As to exactly what motivates students to sacrifice their vacation time to manual labor, Camargo cites a quotation from famed anthropologist Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.