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September 6, 2019

FGCU supporting Bahamas in Dorian recovery efforts

President offers resources to partners in higher education reeling from devastating hurricane

Updated Sept. 21, 2019

(L-R) FGCU Alumni Association Chair and Lee Health Director of Government Relations Michael Nachef, FGCU Director of Emergency Management Ruth Rodrigues, Lee Health Chief Foundation and Development Officer Chris Simoneau, FGCU and SWFL Community Foundation Trustee Robbie Roepstorff, SWFL Community Foundation Senior Advisor Trustee Will Prather, and LeeSar Vice President Jeremy Owens show their FGCU spirit before the medical supplies were shipped to The Bahamas. Photo: James Greco
Junior Brianna Ritchie talks with WINK News’ Anika Henanger days after Hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas.

Florida Gulf Coast University partnered with Lee Health, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and LeeSar to deliver 6,000 pounds of medical supplies to The Bahamas. Among the items provided are surgical gowns, diapers, gauzes, sponges and alcohol prep pads. FGCU junior Brianna Ritchie spoke with WINK News for a story about the donation.

Ritchie previously talked with the station about being away from her family in Freeport during the storm. She told the station that she was able to reach her parents and siblings days after Hurricane Dorian hit the country.

Original story published Sept. 6, 2019

The Florida Gulf Coast University community is reaching out to support The Bahamas in the wake of one of the most destructive hurricanes on record in the islands.

FGCU President Mike Martin has been in contact with Rodney D. Smith, president and CEO of the University of The Bahamas, offering operations space, housing, and technology as well as fundraising support. An FGCU alumna who works for The Bahamas National Trust also is helping coordinate Hurricane Dorian recovery donations with the Naples Botanical Garden, where she once served as an intern.

“We have reached out to our colleagues and the students at the University of the Bahamas to offer whatever assistance we can as they deal with the devastating impacts of Dorian,” Martin said. “These will be challenging times at UB, and we stand with them as they rise to the challenge.”

“One of our campuses in Freeport has been completely destroyed,” Smith said in a Sept. 4 email reply to Martin. “Faculty, staff and students have been left homeless as well.”

A UB campus in East Grand Bahama also sustained severe flooding and devastating storm damage, according to its website. The principal campus, located in the capital city of Nassau, remains functional, according to Smith.

“In the wake of this devastation, we appeal to our friends and supporters to give in support of relief and restoration efforts for The Bahamas and our UB-North campus faculty, staff and students,” said a message on the UB site.

Monetary donations can be made online to the university’s Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund. Contributions also can be made by mail with checks payable to: University of The Bahamas c/o The BECS Foundation, 3616 Peace River Drive, Punta Gorda, FL 33983. The Bahamas Education, Culture, and Science Foundation (BECS) supports organizations and institutions in The Bahamas that are involved in tertiary education, cultural endeavors and scientific research. The BECS was incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in Florida in 2003.

Meanwhile in Southwest Florida, the Naples Botanical Garden is encouraging donations through its website for the Bahamas National Trust, which serves as the country’s national park service, protecting and conserving its natural resources. FGCU graduate and Bahamas native Falon Cartwright (’12, M.S., Environmental Science) serves there as a retreat curator and parks manager in New Providence. The two organizations have long maintained a close partnership in plant conservation. All funds donated through the garden will be used to support the trust’s recovery and restoration efforts.