In the days leading up to, during and after Hurricane Irma, many faculty, staff and students rallied to support one another by giving their time, efforts and financial support. During the storm, the university opened two on-campus shelters to students, their families and other evacuees, and many faculty and staff worked through the storm to provide information, resources and critical care. In the weeks that followed, the university established an emergency assistance fund for faculty, staff and students, and President Fuchs made a Facebook Live appearance to introduce the fund and to highlight the work of UF staff while showcasing the newly renovated Plaza of the Americas. Watch the recording by clicking on the image below.
Immediately after the hurricane, the UF administration quickly put together the “Aid-a-Gator” fund to provide monetary support to faculty, staff and students who were directly affected in some way. Upon its introduction the Monday following the storm, Aid-a-Gator began receiving applications from those in need. The fund received approximately 430 applications.
“We really did not know how many applications we would receive or how badly our faculty and staff were impacted,” said Maureen De Armond, UF assistant vice president for human resources. “We have been pretty overwhelmed by the volume, and some of the stories are nothing short of heartbreaking.”
To administer the funds, UFHR welcomed the support of the university’s Sick Leave Pool Committee, which has been meeting two to three times a week since Aid-a-Gator’s introduction. Grants of up to $1,500 have been awarded to faculty and staff who suffered due to loss of power or were displaced from their homes. Nearly two dozen employees reported damage, flooding and major repairs that need to be made to their homes—and some are currently homeless.
While many have received Aid-a-Gator support, funds are being quickly depleted. While the deadline to apply was Oct. 6, the account for donations established by the UF Foundation will remain open. Anyone who is able to is encouraged to make a donation to the fund online to help support more of those in need. A list of additional sources of state and federal aid may also be found on the Aid-a-Gator website.
“This is a great cause to donate to. One hundred percent of your donation will help a member of the Gator Nation who is in need,” De Armond explained. “The people working on this project are doing so in addition to their existing job duties, so there are no overhead costs. Every penny will make a difference.”