October 22, 2017

Friars Put on Benefit Concert for Puerto Rico

by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18

News Editor

photo of a group of Puerto Rican students posing for a photo

Laura Chadbourne ’20/The Cowl

After only three days of planning, on Friday, September 28, 20 Providence College students came together to put on a benefit concert to raise funds for Puerto Rico, after the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. Gabriella Short ’18, wearing a white shirt that adorned the Puerto Rican flag on the back, stood in front of the crowd that flocked to the Smith Quad, and explained that every single penny from the event will go to Puerto Rico.

Short, along with the other students from Puerto Rico, planned the event in it’s entirely after they received the go ahead from Steven Sears, dean of students, last Tuesday.“Once we got the okay, it was nonstop,” said Short. “I was going 100 miles per hour, but we made it happen, and over 300 people attended the event,” she said.

The event included a beer garden, lawn games, a miniature golf course that was donated by BOP, and live music from PC students including Racheal Johnston ’18. For four dollars, students could get a plate of food that came from a local Puerto Rican restaurant.

“It just amazes me,” said Diane LaMatina ’18, who attended the event. “The fact that so many people chose to come here and support the cause shows me that the people at this school really do care for their peers and want to show their support.”

By 5:30, the event was bustling. The beer garden was filled with upper classmen, the line to the food was very steady, and administrators and faculty members mingled with students playing the lawn games.

“It makes be proud to be a Friar today,” said Kevin O’Neil ’18. “Events like these show that we really do care about each other, especially when we’re coming together to support a great cause.”

Short expressed her gratitude to Dean Sears and Sharon Hay, director of Student Activities for their support and assistance in making the event successful. She also thanked Student Congress, the Office of Admissions, BOP, and BMSA for their support. “We are so, so thankful,” she said. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Donations are still being accepted, with a fundraising goal of $5,000. The PC community is enouaraged to donate to a GoFundMe page, which can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/friars-with-puerto-rico.

According to the page, put together by Maria Santos ’20, all donations from the event and to the Go Fund Me will go to Unidos Por Puerto Rico, an organization that will be providing food, water, medicine, and financial aid to those who need it on the island.

In last week’s Cowl, Santos explained that being at PC and not at home has made the Puerto Rican students feel powerless and hopeless, but decided to turn their sadness into positive action.

The final amount that was raised at the event is still being calculated, as other outside donations are still expected to come in, but Short expressed that she knows the event was successful as it got students together and raised awareness.

“It is important that students know we are part of the PC community, and are more than just 20 students who are directly affected by what just happened,” said Short. “Every time something like this happens and affects our community in some way, it helps for our peers to be mindful of what happened, and respectful and understand where our hearts are.”

“The island is completely destroyed,” said Natalia Fournier ’19, a student from Puerto Rico. “It’s not only a vacation spot, but it’s our home, it’s where we grew up, and it’s where our friends and family live,” she said.

She stressed that this event was so important because it can help families and businesses get the resources they need to survive, because many people on the island currently do not have access to basic and necessary essentials.

Short explained more fundraising efforts and events will occur throughout the semester to further help the island. “I want to say thank you to everyone who was there at the event and let everyone know that this is just the beginning,” she said.

“There is a lot more ahead to help our beautiful little island get back on its feet.”

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