Aid-a-Gator provides a lifeline to employees in need
On Sept. 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane with winds upward of 120 mph. As it moved through the state, it damaged homes, businesses and entire communities, leaving behind thousands of individuals in need of assistance. Concerned about the hurricane’s negative impact on UF employees, President Kent Fuchs worked with UFHR and the UF Foundation to create what we now know as the Aid-a-Gator program.
Aid-a-Gator is an emergency relief fund for UF employees experiencing financial hardship. Funds are not meant to replace income, but to provide needed assistance in a crisis. Over the past four years, the program has expanded beyond hurricane relief, assisting over 400 employees as they weather hardships such as sudden illness, family crisis or natural disasters.
Any UF employee, including graduate assistants, can apply for emergency relief through Aid-a-Gator; and applicants can receive a maximum of $1,500 per calendar year. A committee of staff and faculty work alongside the UFHR Benefits team to review each application and a decision is usually made within the month.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Aid-a-Gator became a crucial resource for many employees across the state. OPS employees and graduate assistants specially benefited from the program. Many of those graduate assistants were also international students who found themselves stranded in Gainesville with mounting bills.
Beyond financial assistance, the Aid-a-Gator team directs employees in need to available UF and community resources. Working on a case-by-case basis, applicants are connected with programs like the Employee Assistance Program and the Field & Fork Pantry, or organizations such as Bread of the Mighty and Three Rivers Legal Services, among others.
But Aid-a-Gator is not a self-sustaining program. The number of employees that can be helped, the amount of funds that can be distributed and even how long the program lasts solely depend on the amount of donations received. That is why during this year’s UF Campaign for Charities, we are asking the UF community to help us keep Aid-a-Gator going, so we can in turn continue to assist employees experiencing financial hardship.
Your contribution, no matter how big or small, will serve as a lifeline for employees in need of assistance. To donate, please click the link below.