FGCU Puts a Pause on “Eagles in Need” Hurricane Relief Fund 


Photo courtesy of Karolina Grabowska, Unsplash

Jusolyn Flower, Contributing Writer

Just one week after Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida, FGCU launched the “Eagles in Need” relief fund. Now, over a month has passed, and the “Eagles in Need” application process has been paused, but several FGCU community members still need support and financial assistance.

The relief fund is acting as an emergency response that would provide one-time awards to assist students, faculty and staff. On Oct. 12, FGCU announced the “Eagles in Need” relief fund would be paused, allowing extra time for the team to process applications and distribute funds to applicants on an as-needed basis.

“Eagles in Need was created very quickly as part of our emergency response to Hurricane Ian, and it continues to be managed by a small number of employees from across the university,” Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Dr. Mitch Cordova said. “We are working through our applications as fast as we can to make sure we are best supporting those in need.”

According to Cordova, 292 faculty and staff received a $1,000 reward, totaling $292,000, and 2,430 students received a $500 reward, totaling $1.21 million as of Oct. 24. Cordova thanked the FGCU Foundation, the FGCU Financing Corporation and the Southwest Florida community for donating money to support the fund.

Lexi Barber is one of the FGCU students affected by Hurricane Ian. Her family in Port Charlotte and North Port suffered from power outages for 12 days after the storm and immense long-term damage, including flooding and roof leaks due to the loss of shingles. 

“My family lost everything on our property [except for] our home, and even that sustained great damage,” said Barber. “My father’s house was flooded over a foot deep, and it ruined everything in their home. New flooring, new cabinets, new furniture–  thousands and thousands of dollars just to get stuff back to normal or as close to normal as we can get it.”

After FGCU introduced the “Eagles in Need” relief fund, she received an award but still felt like it was not enough to mend the brokenness she and her family had endured. 

“The fund helped buy groceries for my family of eight, but at the same time, it felt like they were telling me my life and all of my ruined stuff was only worth $500. I am grateful for even getting any money, don’t get me wrong, but all of that was simply spent on groceries that we could eat without power or water,” said Barber.

Cordova said that conversations are ongoing to determine when they anticipate reopening the application forms. However, it cannot reopen without additional fundraising efforts. 

“I still think everyone who was affected is still suffering greatly … even now, a month later, we are still cleaning up and hearing horror stories about this hurricane,” said Barber. 

For those interested in donating online, please visit www.fgcu.edu/ianrelief or by sending a check with “Hurricane Ian Relief Fund” in the memo line to:

Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation, Inc. 

Campus Support Complex 

10501 FGCU Blvd. S. 

Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565