Teamwork at its best!

Alumni Chapters and Alumni Respond to UAPB students during historic weather-related crisis

By Ardren Jones and Kim Jones Sneed

During this time that most of the nation is experiencing extreme summer heat and sweltering temperatures, it is the perfect time to remember the historic winter storm that occurred in February 2021.

This storm, which had record breaking snowfall coupled by Arctic-like temperatures, wreaked havoc throughout Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  Several buildings on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) campus were damaged.  The campus community and residents throughout the city also suffered low water pressure because of pipes that had burst and caused leaks.  Some residents were without electricity for several days.  This created an extremely challenging situation throughout the Pine Bluff area.

UAPB Chancellor Dr. Laurence B. Alexander made the decision that it was not safe for students to remain on campus, so several were transported to Little Rock area hotels. The University campus was also closed to the public resulting in employees working from home.

Former UAPB Pulaski County Alumni Chapter President Michael Mason and Second Vice President Wendolyn Nelson sounded the alarm that more needed to be done to help our displaced students. While UAPB provided the students with a main meal, Chapter members knew they wanted and needed snacks between meals. Social media, email marketing and specifically the UAPB Facebook page was used asking for donations.

Our Alumni answered the call with people from around the country making donations. Donations from alumni and friends totaled over $6,000!

The Young Alumni Committee and other helpers used the donations to purchase snacks, water, fruit, toiletries, socks, and other necessities for the students. They placed the items in plastic bags for ease of distribution.

Chapter and Committee members started out planning to help students at one hotel.  However, within 48 hours, the numbers rose to over 300 students scattered around five additional hotels.

The Greater Kansas City Alumni Chapter took it a step further by helping displaced students who were not in hotels and unable to receive main meals.  The Chapter provided finances, groceries and individual meal packs.

“This started out with students from Kansas City,” said Vice President Tanesha Thompson of the Greater Kansas City Alumni Chapter and UAPB National Alumni Board Member.  “But then we learned about other students who also had needs.  Because we personally knew a few of the students, we helped them directly by sending finances to them through Cash App.”

A UAPB alumnus who lived in the local area provided support by putting bags of groceries together and delivering them to the students in need, Thompson said.

The Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Alumni Chapter assisted by donating funds to the UAPB Pulaski County Alumni Chapter.  Janice Roberts, who serves as the Chapter’s Chaplain and as National Alumni 1st Vice President, learned that students returning to the UAPB campus needed to do their laundry but lacked detergent, bleach, fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc.  She traveled to a local Walmart where she was joined by staff members from the UAPB/AM&N National Alumni Association and UAPB Facilities Management.

Roberts was assisted in purchasing and transporting nearly $600 in laundry products, which were then taken back to the campus.

We’re shouting out the Pulaski County Alumni Chapter and its current President Ashia Muhammad, the Greater Kansas City Alumni Chapter and President Shannon Hendrix, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Alumni Chapter and President Dr. Hazell Reed, the Young Alumni Committee as well as our beloved Alums and Friends throughout the country. Thank you for immediately coming to the rescue during this time of crisis!