The University Record, August 16, 1993

Building Services staff spearhead flood relief effort

By Ryan Solomon
News and Information Services

Combine the ability to quickly mobilize 400 of your coworkers who have big hearts with unlimited access to nearly all University buildings and you have the makings of a large humanitarian effort to help people who have suffered from the Midwest floods.

Custodian Donald Paschel watched television news stories that showed people and animals helpless against swirling Midwest floodwaters. He decided that watching the tragedy unfold before him and empathizing with the flood victims was not enough. At the next monthly Building Services general staff meeting, where about 300 employees had gathered, Paschel hushed the crowd when he suggested mobilizing a U-M disaster relief drive to send aid to the flooded region.

Paschel, who has no relatives or friends living in the flooded areas, acknowledges the difficulty in getting some people to contribute, especially when the threat of natural disaster seems remote.

“Wait until you’re standing on your roof waiting for some help to come by and nobody comes, then you’ll realize what we’re doing,” Paschel adds.

Within 24 hours of the Building Services meeting, the 19-member Building Services Flood Victims Relief Effort committee was formed and fliers announcing the relief drive were printed and posted throughout University buildings. Later, donation boxes were left in many campus buildings.

The committee is working with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army to see that donated canned goods, cleaning supplies, and clothes are quickly distributed to those in need.

Charles Bibins, flood relief committee chair, says it is easy to help others if you spend a few moments thinking about trading places with them.

“Is there something I can do? Is there some way I can help? Ask yourselves that, and it’s just really simple to put yourself in their place,” Bibins says.

The Building Services Flood Victims Relief Effort, which began July 19, by late last week had collected more than 40 gallons of disinfectant, 65 gallons of beverages, 800 cans of canned food, 20 packages of disposable diapers, 138 boxes of C-fold paper towels, more than 80 rolls of toilet paper and two full boxes of assorted baby food products.

The first shipment of supplies was scheduled to leave Ann Arbor last week. Building Services staff members plan to continue collecting and sending supplies to flood victims, Bibins says.

Anyone wishing to donate items where there are no drop boxes, may call Building Services, 764-0521. Articles specifically needed include: canned goods, medical supplies, cleaning supplies, clothes, bedding, bottled water and baby formula.