Haiti benefit to showcase Butler students

On Jan. 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, leaving at least 2 million people homeless. Eight months later, many Haitians are still homeless and the damage is still evident.

In an effort to help out, “Open Mic Night for Haiti” will be held on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. in the Reilly Room.

Junior Winford Parker has organized the event in hopes of donating $1,000 towards relief efforts.

“Even though the news and the media have moved on to the next catastrophe, there are still thousands of people without homes,” Parker said. “It’s heartbreaking and any little thing helps.”

Parker planned to hold the event last semester on the night of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, but plans fell through when Butler made it to the game.

“It was really disheartening,” Parker said. “Everyone on campus was so happy and excited about the team going so far, and I was too, but at the same time, it meant that all of this effort and time I had put into it would result in nothing.”

Parker, an arts administration major, decided to try to organize the event once more when Ross Hall Faculty-in-Residence Chris Bungard communicated with him over the summer.

Bungard had planned to fund the original event and he told Parker the opportunity was still there.

“We talked about it and he was still willing to support it and was still excited about it, so I decided to give it another shot,” Parker said.

Bungard said it’s important for this event to go on, even though Haiti has been out of the media spotlight in recent months.

“Even in tough economic times, we need to be able to look at the privileges we have as Americans and embrace a sense of responsibility for fellow humans,” Bungard said. “The problems have not magically gone away because people sent a text donation right after the earthquake.”

“Open Mic Night for Haiti” will feature many student performers, including performances from Butler’s all-male acapella group, Out of the Dawg House.

This will be the group’s first on-campus performance of the semester.

Senior Robbie Foote, a member of Out of the Dawg House, said the group is excited to perform.

“We’re all looking forward to it,” Foote said. “It’s a great cause and even if students can’t go, it will get them talking and that’s really what this is all about.”

Trying to organize for the event was complicated and difficult, Parker said.

“Everything has to go through someone else,” Parker said. “You can’t make a decision without it being approved by someone else.”

After getting approval from the Pulse Office and signing up to use the Reilly Room, Parker got to the part he said he was most nervous about.

“I was really scared that no one would want to perform,” Parker said. “Once I got a few people in, everything started to snowball and now I have performances lined up and it’s just a relief.”

Sophomore Lauren King said she is excited to be singing as a soloist for the first time on Butler’s campus.

“I do some [solo performances] at home in Ohio, but it’s hard to find opportunities here being so busy with classes,” King said. “I’m really excited to get in front of a new audience and hopefully get a good response.”

Along with getting performers, Parker also needed the help of other students to do some behind-the-scenes work at the benefit.

One volunteer, sophomore Christina Kunda, said the cause is something that people shouldn’t forget so soon.

“It’s a cause that needs our attention. Without the media updating us, we are limited to what is actually going on,” Kunda said.

The event will benefit Partners in Health, an organization that has been working with Haiti for 20 years.

The event should be impactful because of the work the beneficiary does, Bungard said.

“As Americans, we often overlook what it is like to live in many parts of the world, where things we take for granted are daily struggles,” he said. “This event should help raise awareness that the issues that affect Haitians now will require ongoing support and aid.”

“I’ve known about PIH for quite a while now, but I had never really looked into it,” Parker said. “I am just glad to be involved with something like that.”

Admission to the event is free, but donations are suggested.

Audience members will be able to vote for their favorite performers, and the top three performers will receive prizes.

in need of attention: Many Haitians are still homeless eight months after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Open Mic Night for Haiti will benefit relief efforts and will be Sept. 24 in the Reilly Room. (Photo courtesy of MCT)

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