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UMFK coffeehouse raises money for Louisiana hurricane victims

September 30, 2005

NR05148

A Cajun/ French-themed coffeehouse fundraiser sponsored by the University of Maine at Fort Kent on September 23 has raised $575 to assist in rebuilding efforts in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Proceeds from the UMFK event will be directed to Habitat for Humanity.

The coffeehouse, held in the Bengal's Lair, featured performances by faculty, students, staff and community members.

Musicians donating their time and talent to the cause included UMFK faculty members Scott Brickman, Bruno Hicks, Dave Hobbins, Geraldine Cannon-Becker, and Mariella Squire. Katharine Harrington served as mistress of ceremonies.

University staff participating in the concert included Lisa Ornstein and Caro Williams.

Several students also presented their musical talent, including John Blanchette, Nathalie Pelletier, Samantha Boutot, Patrick Paulo, Jules Bodo, Aubrey Daigle, and Heather Hartman. Melanie Saucier, a ten-year-old from Fort Kent, also presented musical selections.

Coordinating the project were Brickman, associate professor of music and chair of the arts and humanities division; Harrington, assistant professor of French; and Hobbins, professor of forestry and environmental studies and faculty marshal.

"When Katrina hit and I saw the devastated areas in Louisiana and elsewhere, I couldn't help thinking of the Francos in Louisiana who are suffering. I wanted to do something to let them know that we are thinking of them and wish to help in any way we can," added Harrington.

As a musician, Brickman's motivation for involving himself with the benefit coffeehouse comes from both within and to honor a longstanding tradition.

"Musicians have a 200 year history of using their craft to bring awareness to social issues. There have been many recent instances of the UMFK faculty, staff and students uniting on our campus, as well as the greater St. John Valley community coming together to support causes they believe in," said Brickman.

In recognition of the French connection between the St. John Valley and Louisiana, the three organizers planned an Acadian theme for the event, by encouraging participants to perform in French. In addition, refreshments that went with the theme of the local culture, including the always popular ployes, were served.

ARAMARK, the University's foodservice provider donated food and beverages for purchase, the proceeds from which went toward the UMFK Katrina rebuilding fund, along with funds collected at the door. The campus community donation has already been forwarded to Habitat for Humanity.