LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – At UNLV, students from Hawaii said Las Vegas is their home away from home and with the Maui wildfires, they’re doing everything they can to help.
“I was born in Big Island and moved to Oahu on the east side of Waimanalo,” Zion David-Ravey said. “I chose UNLV because it had my major and because there was also a big presence of the Hawaii community.”
Zion David-Ravey is a junior at UNLV and a board member of the ‘Ewalu Club. It’s a student organization created to share the Aloha spirit and Polynesian culture in Las Vegas.
In the last week, she and other student members like Leia De Los Santos have been checking in with family and friends impacted by the fire.
“The first couple days after the fires, it was really hard for us to get in touch with our friends, we would send messages and whatnot and spread the word but we really didn’t hear from our friends until this past Saturday,” De Los Santos explained.
De Los Santos came to UNLV from San Francisco, but her family is originally from Oahu, Hawaii.
“It’s really hard being away from our families and knowing everything is happening over there and school starts in two weeks so it’s like our priorities are a little bit everywhere but at the top of our list is our people over there in Hawaii,” De Los Santos said.
David-Ravey is encouraging the community to help as much as they can and any donation big or small is appreciated.
“I talked to a couple of my friends who lost everything, they lost their houses and it’s even hard for them to go back to their houses to check it out and see if anything is left and they’re still looking for their family members,” David-Ravey said. “I asked a friend what we could do for her, what she needed from the club, and she was like this is a weird request. I really need luggage because I need to come back to UNLV for school to finish up my senior year, but I don’t have anything to pack my things in.”
‘Ewalu club members have spent the last several days working on ways to give back including hosting a bake sale and packing donation boxes.
“As for UNLV, there have been a lot of student organizations reaching out to ‘Ewalu club asking if we’re okay and if our members are okay, what they can do to help and we’re really grateful to have such caring people,” said David-Ravey.
With the fall semester underway, ‘Ewalu club members want people to know there are student resources available.
“Las Vegas, I think is really coming together, we’re the ninth island and it’s really comforting knowing that we picked a solid place to come to school and we’re not too far away from home. It’s really nice to have that out here,” De Los Santos added.
Those resources include:
1. Counseling and psychological services (CAPS) provides mental health services including crisis counseling. Walk-ins are available or call 702-895-3627.
2. Emergency financial assistance. This program is sponsored by the S.O.S. fund and the Intersection (Academic Multicultural Resource Center). It is open during the first weeks of the semester and is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
3. UNLV support team. The team is able to connect students in distress to university resources, including but not limited to mental health support and financial assistance.