HWS Responds

Mission and Purpose

When natural disasters strike, HWS students, faculty and staff pitch in to help. HWS Responds began in 2005 in an effort to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, and continued with efforts to assist people affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. We are now committed to assisting in the relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey. If you'd like to assist, please email serve@hws.edu or call (315) 781-3825.

2017: Hurricane Harvey

As we have done in the past, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are committed to assisting in the relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey left so much devastation in Texas and the Gulf Coast. The Colleges have reached out to alumni and alumnae in the Texas area and are keeping track of those members of the HWS community most directly affected.

Especially in the early days following a natural disaster, direct financial contributions to reputable non-profit organizations are often the most efficient and effective way to impact victims. Thomas Tighe LL.D. ’03, our 2009 Convocation speaker, is the CEO of Direct Relief, a well-respected humanitarian aid organization. Direct Relief has guaranteed that 100% of donations for Hurricane Harvey will be used exclusively for that effort.

As opportunities for additional engagement become available, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning will communicate those to the HWS community.

Click the image to donate.

Previous Efforts

Nepal Relief

Student volunteers from HWS Responds tabled during the end of the Spring 2015 semester to raise funds for relief in Nepal. The HWS Responds Initiative worked with the Office of Intercultural Affairs and other student leaders to organize this effort. Funds raised went to the reputable response organization, Direct Relief International, which has partnered with the Colleges for past natural and humanitarian disasters. With the aid of partners like HWS, Direct Relief has to date delivered 251,468 lbs. of medical aid totaling $28.6 million to health facilities throughout Nepal's earthquake-affected regions. To make a donation, please visit www.directrelief.org.

2013: Hurricane Sandy

HWS Staff member Jeff DeVuyst led a relief trip in March 2013 as an Alternative Spring Break. Working with Community Collaborations International, and staying on site with Hamilton College students, HWS students spent the week working in Atlantic County, New Jersey, on Hurricane Sandy relief and reconstruction projects. Community Collaborations provided food, lodging, tools, safety equipment, and project coordination.


2011: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

2010: Haiti Earthquake

2005: Hurricane Katrina

Over four years – starting in 2006 after it was safe for students to volunteer – HWS students, faculty and staff participated in eight trips to New Orleans, each time driving 20 hours one way to get there.

  • January 2006: 14-student delegation from HWS completed the Colleges’ first mission trip to St. Bernard's Parish, working with Operation Helping Hands, a program of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Students gutted houses so homeowners could begin rebuilding.
  • March 2006: 13 students went back to St. Bernard Parish to help with rebuilding efforts.
  • October 2006: A first year seminar titled "The Politics of Disaster" included a trip to New Orleans where students participated in service activities and met with politicians, community organizers and journalists.
  • January 2008: As part of HWS Responds, 13 Hobart and William Smith students worked with Operation Helping Hands on reconstruction efforts. They also participated in the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project, which worked for the passage of legislation to create 100,000 jobs to rebuild the area.
  • April 2008: Less than three years after Katrina, HWS Responds raised more than $36,000 for relief efforts. Students continue to return to New Orleans during school breaks. Many participate in the “Rebuild America, Rebuild the Gulf Coast” conference.
  • April 2010: Students spent their spring break week in New Orleans volunteering.



Over the last year, student-coordinated fundraising efforts benefitting local, national and international non-proft organizations total more than $110,000.


For the latest American Red Cross relief information or to make a donation visit www.RedCross.org

If you choose to donate directly to the ARC please email serve@hws.edu, so we can track the HWS combined effort.


Direct Relief International


Red Cross

Network for Good

Operation Helping Hands






Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.