GW Community Responds to Natural Disasters

The university has made resources available as students, faculty and staff raise funds and collect supplies for disaster relief.

October 9, 2017

Kogan Plaza

The George Washington University and members of the university community have reached out to students and staff affected by a string of natural disasters in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean countries, Mexico and several Western states.

The university has established a website that lists resources available for anyone impacted by the string of hurricanes, the Mexican earthquake and wildfires in the Western United States.

“We want to do what we can to let students, faculty and staff know what resources are available to help them in their time of need,” said GW Provost Forrest Maltzman. “And many in the university community are, as individuals and as organizations, doing their part, as well, including raising funds for disaster relief and collecting much needed supplies.”

Below is a roundup of resources available and some relief efforts by the GW community:

Division of Student Affairs

For each of the storms (as well as the Western wildfires and the Mexico earthquake) the Student Support and Family Engagement team sent out an email of support, letting students know whom to reach out to if they need any assistance. 

Mental health professionals are always available to speak to GW students and consult with faculty, staff or parents about any mental health-related concerns. Mental Health Services at the Colonial Health Center are available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (202) 994-5300. 

The majority of MHS services are free, including the initial consultation, crisis support in person or by phone and the first several individual counseling sessions. If there are financial concerns, a sliding scale can be arranged for MHS service fees. Students should not let finances be a barrier to seeking support. Counseling is also available for faculty and staff through the GW Employee Assistance Program by calling (866) 522-8509.

Additional self-help resources are available on the MHS website:

Student Support and Family Engagement also worked with Financial Aid to help students get their aid packages re-evaluated based on new circumstances and gave out about $5,000 in Ron Howard Emergency Funding to affected students to help defray their costs. This included electronic textbooks and school supplies purchased for students affected.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, Student Affairs and Development and Alumni Relations supported the Student Association leadership in their efforts to encourage students and other members of the university community to make donations to the Ron Howard Fund to aid their fellow students.  The two-day mini-campaign generated at least $1,700 in donations to the Ron Howard Fund. 

Student-led relief efforts include the Student-Athlete Advisory Council's Hurricane Relief Diaper Drive.

More information is available on the Division of Student Affairs website.

Nashman Center

The Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement has been promoting GWResponds (, a website where anyone can donate in support of disaster relief. Funds are donated to support relief in all of the domestic areas hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, specifically, funds will support Team Rubicon, former military first-responder volunteers, help purchase supplies to be donated in the USVI, and aid relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

In the month following Hurricane Harvey, the Nashman Center partnered with Student Affairs to promote donations to the Ron Howard Fund to be earmarked for GW students whose families were affected by the recent natural disasters.

Nashman’s Civic House is holding a fundraiser Oct 14 to support GW Responds hurricane relief. The fundraiser will be held from 10:30-1:30 p.m. in Kogan Plaza. Students will sell boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts ($10/box or $1/donut) as well as selling/delivering pizzas ($10/pizza). 

Development and Alumni Affairs

Development and Alumni Affairs staff are working with the Division of Student Affairs to provide support for online giving, messaging and gifts processing related to GW Responds - - fundraising efforts to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas both on the ground and in the GW community.

The Office of Alumni Relations has been in touch with its regional volunteers and has posted messages on Facebook and via Twitter to let alumni know we're thinking about them and their families.

Dean David Dolling also sent emails to SEAS alumni in the affected areas.

Multicultural Student Services Center

The Mexican Student Association (MXGWU) is raising funds for IBD Fund, which will match every dollar it receives until Dec. 12 to help with reconstruction efforts in Mexico. MXGWU is giving out wristbands to people who donate $3 or more and tabled in Kogan Plaza on Oct. 2. MXGWU may coordinate with Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and American to hold a Day of the Dead event to raise money for Mexico.

Milken Institute School of Public Health

Dean Lynn Goldman is co-chair of the National Academies Standing Committee on Public Health Research During Disasters and, in that context, has been advising HHS on public health aspects of the hurricane aftermath.

Also, Pietro Marghella, lecturer in Department of Health Policy and Management, has been appointed special adviser to the Puerto Rican secretary of health and is advising the secretary on disaster medicine and public health in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Other GW Community Efforts and Resources

The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration has set up donation boxes to accept diapers, soap and new prepackaged clothing for Puerto Rico.

GW student Adonte Yearwood has spearheaded an effort to gather supplies to ship to family in the USVI. Many GW employees are from or have family living in the Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico, many of whom are participating in relief efforts, including Marva Gumbs Jennings, Grace E. Henry and Fitzroy Smith.

Undergraduate students Lashonette Schjang of St. Croix, Adonte Yearwood of St. John and Bailee Dukes are leading a donation drive for victims of Hurricane Irma.