Flood crew is eager despite low turnout

Lynne Kozarek

As thousands of residents in northwestern Minnesota dredge through the muck to find the remains of their homes, members of the University community, including Marvin Marshak and McKinley Boston, will grab their brooms and help dust off the victims’ memories.
Coach buses carrying the nearly 60 volunteers will leave at 8 a.m. Friday. The volunteers will stay in the gymnasium at the University’s Crookston campus, and all meals will be provided, free of charge, by the cafeteria and the Red Cross.
“We are trying to get 500 people to volunteer,” said Florence Funk, executive assistant in the office of Academic Affairs and a co-coordinator of the event. “Unfortunately, we don’t have as many people as we planned for.”
In response to the lack of interest, coordinators of “Flood Clean Up and U” have invited family and friends of University volunteers along for the ride. Originally, people were going to travel up to Crookston Friday and return Sunday evening. However, a special Saturday evening departure time back from Crookston has been arranged for the convenience of workers.
“We are desperate for as many people as we can get,” Funk said.
Jane Canney, assistant vice president of Student Development and Athletics and co-coordinator of the event, said she doesn’t believe the low number of volunteers is a result of a lack of interest but a conflict of interest.
“It’s not surprising because of the Minnesota AIDS Walk and Spring Jam, both of which interfere with the weekend,” Canney said. “Despite the number of responses, we’re really excited.”
Canney said the event is a good opportunity to support the Crookston campus and help the victims of the recent devastating floods in the East Grand Forks area.
Marshak, vice president for Academic Affairs, and Boston, vice president for Student Development and Athletics, will be lending their time and sleeping on the gym floor with the rest of the participants during the weekend cleanup.
“I think this is an important commitment by the University community to help people in the state,” Marshak said. “There are people who need assistance and the University community is in the position to help.”
Marshak said he felt the weekend cleanup was not only an important opportunity but also sounded like a lot of fun.
Funding for the weekend of volunteerism was provided by the Office of Student Athletics, the Office of Academic Affairs, the University Alumni Association and University Bookstores.