Daemen’s New Humanitarian Association: How University Students Can Get Involved

By Cameron Enders, Out and About Section Editor

According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), there are 114 million individuals currently displaced due to the global crisis. Many of these crises are taking place across Africa and the Middle East, with little to no mainstream news coverage in the United States.

For those who feel a desire to make a difference, they are in luck. On Thursday, March 7th, Daemen’s Humanitarian Association had its first meeting. 

“I had this feeling of hopelessness. There’s all these awful things happening, and I’m like, what can I do about it? I’m just one person. I kind of thought I wish Daemen had something,” Gabriela Urban Torres, a physician’s assistant major (2028) and founder of Daemen’s Humanitarian Association, said.

“My vision is to spread awareness and help aid humanitarian crises through volunteerism, fundraising, and education,” Torres said. “I am hoping we can collaborate with the University of Buffalo’s humanitarian association as well.”

Currently, the club is in talks with Journey’s End, which is a Western New York-based refugee resettlement organization, to hold its first event. They will be hosting a first aid drive the week of April 8th where all supplies collected will be turned into first aid kits for refugees and asylum seekers.

While the event is not finalized, the club has expressed interest in holding fundraising events along with different organizations to get aid to people who need it. And Torres stated, “One of our executive board members is going to be responsible for that [selecting reputable organizations for fundraising]. I’m not saying there won’t be mistakes, but we have good intentions.”

So, students can rest assured that their money will go to the places they were told to once fundraising starts.

Humanitarian Associate Vice President Niveen Zidan, a physician’s assistant major (2028), said, “Right now, because we’re just getting started, I feel like we’re kind of just focusing on one issue at a time.”

But that does not mean the association won’t work to provide aid to other crises important to the Daemen community. As Torres said, “I’m open to all ideas; however, I do think there needs to be research before we act on something.”

According to club leadership, a lot of the focus will be on aiding people in Gaza who are facing an ever-growing need for humanitarian relief. Since the situation is still ongoing and highly controversial, the club is focusing on helping people who are in need above all else. 

Torres said, “I have to tread lightly, and I am going in with the mindset that these are the people who are suffering. And wherever we can help aid and make sure they can get access to healthcare, clean water, or food, we will.”

Kendra Beaumont, a social work major (2027) said, “Me being a social work major, obviously that’s really in my wheelhouse [helping others]. I just thought it was an amazing idea, and I really want to help people all around the world.”

“Not only are we an organization going to help other people, but I think some of our members find comfort in knowing like-minded people with a passion for social justice,” Torres said.

“I hope people will consider joining; we’re definitely going to try to make an impact and a difference, even if it is not huge,” Zidan said.

“Even if you are remotely interested, it is a great time; it is fun, it is interesting, and you get to help people in the process,” Beaumont said.To learn more about the club and when the next meeting is going to be, you can email gabriela.urbantorres@daemen.edu.

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