November 9, 2011

CARE Fund May Not Meet Employee Needs

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Despite fundraising efforts, the Emergency Cornellians Aiding and Responding to Employees Fund may not be able to respond to all applicants, according to Beth McKinney, chair of the CARE committee. The CARE fund — which offers faculty and staff in hardship one-time financial assistance — was depleted after flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee earlier in the semester.

McKinney added that, despite potential constraints, the CARE fund has been able to meet all requests so far.

“We all volunteer our time in addition to our job, and it’s all about us being part of a caring community and really feeling good about helping each other,” said McKinney, who is also the director of the Cornell Wellness Program. “The unfortunate part is that sometimes things happen and you’re really jammed and financially stuck.”

Two auctions in October to support the CARE fund generated $13,000, surpassing an original goal of $10,000. The CARE committee held its annual live auction on Oct. 20, and an online auction from Oct. 11 to Oct. 19. Both raised about $5,000 each, McKinney said.

Other fundraisers, which included a pizza lunch earlier this semester and donations from the men’s and women’s hockey games on Oct. 15, generated more than $2,000 for the fund, according to the University.

McKinney said the fund helped 47 flood applicants so far this semester, and more than 50 from non-flood emergencies. She said she expects normally only 10 to 20 applicants per year.

The CARE Fund website classifies an emergency as “an event of such magnitude as to dislocate people … damage or destroy homes and cause a major financial burden.”

According to Ruth Merle-Doyle, auction co-coordinator and health and wellness specialist for the Cornell Wellness Program, students helped the fund surpass its fundraising goals.

Interfraternity Council Vice President for Communications Alan Workman ’13 said that Merle-Doyle contacted him and asked for assistance from Greek leadership. The Greek volunteers provided three items for the auction — one prize of three hours of yard work, and SAT Math tutoring sessions.

“As students at Cornell, we don’t have too much money to provide for the CARE fund, but we do have time and we were able to turn some of our time into money,” Workman said. “This is the first time we’ve actually been involved with the CARE fund, and it’s something that we’ll look to do in the future, as well. This was a good thing for us to get started, especially for establishing that connection between the students and the faculty.”

However, even with the additional efforts this semester, McKinney said that she is not certain the money in the CARE fund will last until the next annual fundraiser.

“We have an infusion, but I’m not 100 percent certain it will last us until the next auction,” McKinney said. “When that happens, then we use whatever publicity we have to reach out to the employees of Cornell to ask for donations.”

According to Merle-Doyle, a fundraiser in the spring is still a possibility, and would be even more likely if students continue to get involved in the fundraising events.

“We would love to be able to work with students more often,” Merle-Doyle said. “If they are able to help those who help them, then I think that we can broaden how much money the grant fund can have and then how many people can be helped.”

Original Author: Kaitlyn Kwan