Students Organize Events for Hurricane Relief

October 5th, 2005 by Adam

When hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf coast, students at Plymouth State University were among the thousands nationwide who started looking for a way to help. Several student groups at PSU came together to organize two fundraising events to take place Sunday, October 16, with help from several groups from the town of Plymouth, including the Board of Selectmen and the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.

From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Plymouth Town Common, local musician and Plymouth State staff member Audrey Drake, and Lakes Region musicians Adam Weston and Chris Stevens will perform. New Orleans-inspired food will served by Sodexho, which runs PSU’s dining services, to all who give a minimum-suggested donation or more toward hurricane relief. All donations go to Habitat for Humanity for rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region.

Speakers will include nationally-known New Orleans poet and community activist Kalamu ya Salaam, who will share his own poetry as well as stories he has collected from other people who were displaced by the hurricanes. His work includes the spoken word CD My Story, My Song (AFO Records) and his latest book What Is Life? (Third World Press). He has received national and regional awards for poetry, play writing, literary criticism, cultural criticism and radio production.

Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man family of restaurants, and Cathy Bentwood, nurse and Plymouth resident, went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to volunteer for various organizations providing relief to victims. They will speak about their efforts and the efforts of others they met in the Gulf region.

Sunday evening at 8 p.m., in the Hartman Union Building (HUB) Courtroom, the band Zox, from Providence, R.I., will headline a benefit concert, while Junction 18, from New York, will open. Relix Magazine says, “Zox is a sophisticated quartet that delivers a vibrant, thinking man’s brand of hook-laden and funky pop-rock. The simplicity that runs through the band’s upbeat, rhythmic songs is offset by sterling violin work, which often takes the lead role, and the occasional jazz or classical nuance. This is energetic, good-time music that’s begging to be heard on the radio.” The concert is open to the general public as well as the campus community. Admission is $5 with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

Rodney Ekstrom, program advisor for the Hartman Union, explains that the benefit event was inspired by Jenny Near, of Moultonboro, N.H., who was to be a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans, La., this fall. She and several PSU students approached Ekstrom with the idea for a benefit. Student groups such as PACE, the Spring Fling committee, PSU Volunteers and the campus radio station WPCR, as well as many students not affiliated with an organization, were all looking for a way to help. They decided to work together on one project.

Says Ekstrom, “Many students have come together with the goal of raising money for relief efforts, and they are excited to be working with the greater Plymouth community to make this happen. It’s truly a community effort.”

For more information, contact Rodney Ekstrom, program advisor for the Hartman Union at PSU, at 535-2639 or

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