After Hurricane Ida struck the southeastern portion of Louisiana, hundreds of college students who had just started their 2021 Fall semesters were, unfortunately, displaced. Luckily, many colleges and universities across the state had opened their classrooms, dormitories, and facilities to these displaced college students, including Houma’s Nicholls State University. In fact, in order to provide living spaces for three dozen of their displaced students, Nicholls has been renovating their South Babington Hall thanks to a $125,000 donation from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, according to a press release from the school
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, or the BRAF, was initially created in 1964 as a philanthropic organization offering relief and service projects across South Louisiana by working with local governments, partnering with nonprofit organizations, and issuing grants. The BRAF’s donation will be used to restore 18 dorm rooms that are located on the first floor of the building in order to provide living spaces to 36 Nicholls students. These students had previously lived off-campus, having been displaced by Hurricane Ida, but once the dorms are renovated they will have a place to call their home-away-from-home.
Lois Smyth spoke on behalf of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation as the director of their Donor Services, saying, “We understand that Nicholls State University received significant damages from Hurricane Ida, leaving many students homeless. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is pleased to support the work taking place in the Bayou region and it is our hope that this grant will assist with accommodating displaced students.”
Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune said of the donation, “While many of us are rebuilding our homes after Hurricane Ida, there are many more who do not have a home to return to. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Because of this gift, students will no longer have to worry about having a roof over their heads or where they are going to sleep. This is what it means to be Louisiana Strong.”
These renovations will consist of the installation of refreshed and refurbished lighting, the application of new coats of paint to the bottom floor, and repairs made to the various ceilings, flooring, and furniture in the various dorm rooms. While these renovations are expected to make up a large sum of the total $125,000 donation, the school reports that any additional funds will be used to update the building’s heating and cooling systems. Luckily, the renovations are only expected to last under a month, so students will be able to move in and enjoy the newly refreshed rooms before the semester is over.
Jeremy Becker, the Executive Director of The Nicholls Foundation, referred to these renovations as the “first step” to be made in helping students return to the campus, but there are still plenty more who could use the help as well. He had reportedly said, “This is a tremendous gift from BRAF and it will assist many students, but unfortunately the need is still great. We learn every day of more students needing not just assistance to attend Nicholls, but simply to have a place to call home. We will continue our fundraising efforts to meet that need as best it can be met.”
Recently, the Nicholls Foundation created the Campus Emergency and Hurricane Relief Fund in order to help students, faculty, and staff who have been impacted by storms like Hurricane Ida. The money collected from donations made to the fund will be used to help the community of Nicholls State University recover from the storm and get back on its feet. Donations to the Nicholls Foundation’s relief fund can be made here.
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