Students for the Poor raise $33,000 to build a Jamaican school during weeklong demonstration

Students raise funds to build a school, water well, and to purchase 1,000 pounds of rice and beans

Published Apr. 30, 2009

Lynn University students have raised funds to build a basic school in Jamaica, a water well in Haiti, and to purchase and ship 1,000 pounds of rice and beans to Jamaica for the destitute through a series of on-campus events, ranging from living in tents, a 5K walk/run, to a public forum. 

A group of Lynn students went without electricity, running water or even cell phones while living in a pre-fab house at the center of campus. The house mirrored two others that Lynn students have raised money for and erected over the last year. The demonstration was meant to raise not only money, but to the raise awareness of poverty in Haiti, Jamaica and neighboring Caribbean countries.

“I stayed in the house Tuesday through Thursday night,” said Jean Nezviar a Lynn student and Haitian native. “I was overwhelmed by support from the campus community.”

Students for the PoorThe participating students are members of Students For The Poor, a campus group organized in support of Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States working in the Caribbean and Latin America. Most of the club members have traveled to Haiti and/ or Jamaica with Food For The Poor during the past year.

“This Journey of Hope trip to Jamaica was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Mike DeMatteo, a Students For The Poor member who succeeded in acquiring $27,186.70 – the exact amount needed to build the basic school in Jamaica. “I wanted to help change lives as much as this experience changed mine. I believe education is the foundation for that change.”

DeMatteo traveled to Jamaica in January 2009 with Food For The Poor. He returned to the U.S. inspired to help those he had met – and left behind. Committed to the idea of building a basic school in Jamaica, DeMatteo submitted his proposal and won the support of donors, who wish to remain anonymous. The school that will be built with the donation will be in Manchester, Jamaica, and will help empower generations of Jamaicans with an education.

“My journeys to Jamaica and Haiti with our students have greatly impacted my life,” said Zachary Walker, Lynn University professor and student advisor. “I have a new purpose, and part of that purpose is to continue exposing our students to the conditions that help them to change their world view. It has been very rewarding for me to see Lynn University students become so passionate about a cause outside of themselves.”

To generate awareness about the plight of Haitians living just an hour’s flight away from Boca Raton, Lynn students slept in tents and a makeshift shelter in the center of campus. Lynn students went without many essentials of life that we sometimes take for granted in the United States to share the reality of Third World living with their campus: a home, a key to lock the door, a roof, electricity, running water, access to schools and healthcare facilities, and much more.

Tents “I feel extremely blessed to have had the privilege to accompany Lynn students to Haiti,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. “These students are an inspiration to me and our entire South Florida community.”

Students For The Poor president, Dan Hennessey, was just named Lynn University male student of the year.

Housing has been a top priority for Food For The Poor, with more than 55,000 housing units given to the poor since Food For The Poor’s inception. By providing simple, sturdy homes to the poorest of the poor, the charity can change the lives of entire families by giving them the security of a safe, dry place to live.

To support the students’ effort, checks should be made out to Food For The Poor and include the special source code "SC #64619" so the money can be tracked to Lynn University's Students For The Poor campaign. Checks can be mailed to Food For The Poor, 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073.