Sev­eral hun­dred mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity gath­ered on Friday after­noon at the Fenway Center to hold a prayer vigil for the vic­tims, their fam­i­lies and all those in the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity affected by Tuesday’s earth­quake in Haiti.

Over the course of the hour-​​long vigil, North­eastern stu­dents, admin­is­tra­tors and spir­i­tual leaders united under a common theme: hope for turning a tragedy into an oppor­tu­nity for solidarity.

In our darkest hours,” said Shelli Jankowski-​​Smith, Northeastern’s director of spir­i­tual life, “no one stands alone. Together we look for­ward with hope.”

The Red Cross Foun­da­tion has esti­mated that between 45,000 and 50,000 per­ished in the mag­ni­tude 7.0 quake, which struck only 10 miles from the cap­ital city of Port-​​au-​​Prince. The Inter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Red Cross and Red Cres­cent Soci­eties esti­mates that roughly 3.5 mil­lion people were directly impacted by the disaster.

Father John Unni, a pastor at St. Cecilia Parish who first vis­ited Haiti 24 years ago, echoed Jankowski-​​Smith by pointing to the impor­tance of coming together in great times of need. “We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers,” he said, noting with opti­mism that the Haitian people —“a people of great faith and hope” — will over­come their misfortune.

Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun directly addressed Northeastern’s Haitian com­mu­nity. They could find strength and com­fort among their many friends at the uni­ver­sity, he said.

We share your sorrow and our prayers are with you,” he said. “Your fam­i­lies are our fam­i­lies, too.”

Aoun said the North­eastern com­mu­nity should be respon­sive to the changing needs of Haitians as the Caribbean country recovers from ram­pant dev­as­ta­tion. He noted the pos­si­bility of sending stu­dent vol­un­teers on an Alter­na­tive Spring Break to Haiti.

Let’s see in the next few months what we can do as a com­mu­nity at North­eastern and in Haiti,” he said.

Stu­dents expressed grat­i­tude for Northeastern’s sup­port as they grieve for missing family members.

It’s ter­rible what hap­pened, but everyone’s been really proac­tive by calling and e-​​mailing me about how they can help,” said Michaelle Lar­racuente, an officer for Haitian Stu­dent Unity, a university-​​based com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tion. Larracuente’s grand­fa­ther is missing.

Tragedies teach us impor­tant lessons on how to deal with future adver­sity, added orga­ni­za­tion pres­i­dent Lizandre Lamour. “Haiti will never crumble,” she said. “With unity, there is strength.”

Mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity are right in the middle of the relief effort.

With finan­cial backing from the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, nursing grad­uate Lauren Sat­terly, AS’07, teamed-​​up with National Nurses United to help with dis­aster relief in Haiti. She flew to Miami on Friday, and could be called upon at any moment to go to the Caribbean Island.

I don’t know how much dif­fer­ence I will make, but hope­fully I will be able to do some­thing,” she said as she got ready to leave campus. “When I go to Haiti, I hope to bring with me what I have learned at Northeastern.”

To watch a video inter­view with Sat­terly, please click here: http://​www​.north​eastern​.edu/​n​e​w​s​/​m​u​l​t​i​m​e​d​i​a​/​v​i​d​e​o​.​h​t​m​l​?​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​I​D​=​V​-​_​x​W​X​w​R​x​0​i​U​B​c​X​g​h​0​r​uYQ

Those who can’t make the trip to Haiti can still sup­port the poorest nation in the Western Hemi­sphere by donating goods to the survivors.

Sev­eral campus orga­ni­za­tions, including Haitian Stu­dent Unity and Northeastern’s Dining Ser­vices, are teaming up to col­lect dona­tions of clothing, canned goods, toi­letries and school sup­plies. All pro­ceeds will be donated to the Amer­ican Red Cross relief effort.

Begin­ning on Tuesday, Jan­uary 19, col­lec­tion boxes will be placed at sev­eral loca­tions around campus, including the Curry Stu­dent Center, Churchill Hall and Inter­na­tional Village.

Those inter­ested in sup­porting national relief efforts can text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to the Haiti Earth­quake Relief Fund, or HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross effort.

The John D. O’Bryant African-​​American Institute’s Unity Gospel Choir opened and closed the pro­gram with two spir­i­tu­ally uplifting songs, including, “This Little Light of Mine.”