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President's Blog: From the Heart

#DaytonStrong

By Eric F. Spina

When alumni travel home for Reunion Weekend, they’ll see big swaths of the city devastated by tornadoes and even bigger hearts reaching out in countless ways as the people of Dayton have come together in a can-do spirit of resiliency.

Our campus, miraculously untouched by the unprecedented 15 tornadoes that ripped through this part of the state, has stepped up in ways that fill my heart.

We’re certainly not alone in this effort. We’re part of a rich, diverse tapestry of families, neighbors, and co-workers — all part of the larger Dayton region family that has bonded together in the aftermath. As a transplant from upstate New York who has never, thankfully, experienced tornadoes before, I’m taken aback by the sight of uprooted once-stately trees, roofs torn off homes, power lines felled, but so touched by simple gestures of kindness all over town.

“We are all here together,” read the Dayton Daily News headline chronicling the brigades of volunteers cleaning up debris, making meals, supplying cases of water — and checking on each other — in the hardest-hit pockets, like Trotwood, Northridge, Old North Dayton, Beavercreek, Harrison Township, and Brookville.

As of this writing, UD’s amazingly dedicated catering staff has prepared and delivered more than 6,600 meals as part of the region’s relief effort — on top of preparing menus for the thousands of alumni who will return to campus this weekend.

A 35-person crew from the facilities management division, chainsaws in hand, helped clear and remove debris from neighborhoods, while countless others in the UD community dropped off donations during a campus-wide drive and quietly spent their weekends and evenings reaching out to those in need. We’ve opened up available student housing for faculty, staff, and students displaced by the storms. Hunter Phillips Goodman, executive director of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, is working with two community partners, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley and St. Vincent de Paul with the support of Montgomery County Job and Family Services, to coordinate short-term transitional housing for other families in our region.

“There are such heart-wrenching stories in our community,” Hunter told an ad hoc team of administrators coordinating UD’s response. “More people in our community need housing than we have capacity — that’s the on-the-ground reality.”

It will take months, if not years, to rebuild parts of our community. That is the reality.

But, this too, is the reality: Dayton has shown it can rally in times of crisis, restoring our collective faith in humanity. Like our Marianist founders who believe we are always stronger together, we are #DaytonStrong.

(For alumni traveling to campus for Reunion Weekend June 7-9 and would like to make a donation of items in most need (toiletries, diapers, sanitary wipes, formula), you can drop those off at the Welcome Center in the Kennedy Union Torch Lounge. We will pass along these items to local relief agencies to distribute to people in need. Other ways for alumni to help can be found on our Flyers Serve website.

Donations for a rapid relief disaster fund are being collected through the Dayton Foundation. Others interested in serving or donating items are asked to contact The Foodbank and the American Red Cross, Dayton Chapter. For those in need of housing, please contact Mary Reid, director of social services at Catholic Social Services, at 937-223-7217 ext. 2133 or visit St. Vincent de Paul and enter your ZIP code.)

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