University and Newark community band together to provide financial crisis aid

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Sam Ford​/THE REVIEW
A task force of nearly 30 students recently established the Newark Area Mutual Aid Network.

BY , Senior Reporter
AND , ​Social Media Editor

As colleges, businesses and restaurants shut down nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, students and families are losing their jobs, some are losing their homes.

A task force of nearly 30 students recently established the Newark Area Mutual Aid Network. The network has a Facebook group, and several additional students, faculty and staff in Newark are banding together to offer support in many ways.

“This is a place for students and community members to request resources and support, as well as local individuals to offer time, money, support and resources to those who are in need,” the page description reads.

The page immediately had a surge of comments from those still local in Newark offering assistance and encouraging those in need to reach out. Many shared resources for anyone experiencing food insecurity.

One user shared a list of 12 locations in Wilmington that currently operate as food sites where any child under 18 can get breakfast and lunch. Some even offered food from their own kitchens.

Joe Kim, a senior human services major, is still living on campus and offered to cook and deliver vegan-friendly food.

“A girl reached out to the task force and said she’s still utilizing UD housing, but the dining halls aren’t always vegetarian-friendly,” Kim said. “People have to break their diet or they have to go out of their way to spend more money. But I have a car, and I’m still on campus and I was able to give some food.”

Alex Guterbock, one of the administrators, said the group is working on creating direct avenues of aid for people in the area.

“We had a lot of faculty reach out who wanted to donate money to people, which was pretty amazing,” Guterbock, a senior international relations and public policy double major, said. “We definitely wanna try to give them an avenue to do so and direct them to students who need some help.”

Two university professors, Anu Sivaraman and Suresh Sundaram, teach in the marketing department and did not need a pandemic to open their hearts. They have been using their personal money to help students for nearly 16 years now.

“We typically help students out or whoever needs it on a one-on-one basis,” Sivaraman said. “But this time, since everything is closed, we tried to reach out through social media and it’s our personal money, and in most cases we don’t have any requirements or a serious writing process or anything like that.”

Sivaraman sent out a tweet on Wednesday asking anyone in need of grocery or rent money to contact them for help. Two students reached out that same day. One had just lost her on-campus job and did not have enough to pay her rent, so Sivaraman and Sundaram covered it.

Sundaram said they never expect repayment from the people they help. Both said they just want to give students a chance to finish their education, so they may in turn find a job and help their own families.

“Bottom line it was a lot of our faculty and people that we knew that helped us through a number of things when we were grad students,” Sundaram said. “Our goal is to essentially pay it forward.”

Students or families in need can reach out to the professors on Twitter @bluehenprof and @bluehenmr.

Guterbock said that anyone can join the Newark Area Mutual Aid Network on Facebook, where other professors and students are also offering aid. Anyone interested in joining the task force can contact her directly.

While unaffiliated with the university, the network brings attention to many of its resources, such as the Student Crisis Fund, which can be found on the “My UD” page of the university’s website.

Situations are considered on a case-by-case basis and support students that find themselves in unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances. The fund helps with food or home insecurity, travel costs related to a sudden death or illness in the immediate family, out-of-pocket medical costs, or replacement of personal belongings due to fire, natural disaster or theft.

Additionally, university dining halls are still open and students remaining in Newark can email deanofstudents@udel.edu to gain access to dining hall meal swipes, previously donated by students in September and February, through the organization, Swipe Out Hunger.

Check back frequently for more coronavirus coverage from The Review at UDReview.com/Category/Coronavirus.

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