Hurricane Fiona, which landed in Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, devastated Puerto Rico and the neighboring Dominican Republic. Over 32 inches of rain have fallen, leading to over 1,000 rescues and leaving over over a million households without electricity. To show their support to those affected by the natural disaster, Cornell’s Latino America Law Students Association is holding a raffle fundraiser.
LALSA is fundraising to support community-based organizations in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Three different organizations, Cabarete Sostenible, Brigada Solidaria del Oeste and Taller Salud are accepting physical and monetary donations. In order to get students involved, LALSA’s raffle will offer students a chance to win Cornell merchandise. To be entered in the raffle, students can donate to any of the three organizations, and provide a screenshot.
Cabarete Sostenible provides access to food in the Dominican Republic. Brigada Solidaria del Oeste is a mutual aid initiative funded after Hurricane Maria to provide community based support to Puerto Ricans in need and Taller Salud is a women’s empowerment organization that is using all donations to this fundraiser to provide food, water, shelter and emergency services to those affected.
Leslie Ramirez grad, a Cornell Law student and organizer of the fundraiser, discussed its importance.
“When Hurricane Fiona hit, we, as Latin American students at Cornell, felt the need to mobilize quickly to help our own communities,” Ramirez said. “We know that historically Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have not received much aid after hurricanes, so we wanted to contribute, even if just a tiny bit, to help alleviate some burden from those affected.”
The deadline to donate is Friday, Oct. 21. The money is going directly to organizations working on the ground to provide food, aid and other resources to people in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
LALSA also set up a box in front of the Office of the Dean of Students for physical donations such as non-perishable food items, disposable food containers, personal hygiene items, disposable cutlery and bottled water.
“We really just wanted to help our brother and sisters,” Ramirez said. “We will continue to fundraise as other natural disasters occur.”
Students can make donations directly to the organization of their choice through a form where people can upload screenshots and then they will be entered into a raffle to win Cornell apparel. LALSA also teamed up with Columbia University’s Latin American Law Students Association to compete in their fundraising efforts for bragging rights.
Members of LALSA felt it was important to use their platform to support organizations on the ground working to meet the needs of people affected by Fiona.
Brianna Ramos grad, also a Cornell law student and organizer of the fundraiser, talked about her personal connection to the devastations from the hurricanes in Puerto Rico.
“We wanted to support community based organizations in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic that are working to provide assistance to those affected by the hurricanes,” Ramos said. “I have family in Puerto Rico that have been affected by this hurricane and past ones including Maria, where long term power outages have impacted access to medical care as well as the ability to attend school and cook meals.”
LALSA works to create a community for Latinx law students and to celebrate their heritage with the law community as a whole. They provide academic and career resources for their members, and host social events to encourage members to celebrate their heritage and meet others from similar backgrounds.
“I am the first in my family to get a bachelor’s and now to attend law school, and being in this organization has enabled me to form connections with upperclassmen who have supported me throughout my first year and my job finding process,” Ramos said. “I’m also lucky enough to have met some of my best friends through this group, and am so proud of the work we have done to support our members and the Latinx community.”