Song and prayer in a circle of supportive strangers is just what Laura Canuelas needed on Thursday night.
“It’s really nice to feel that I’m not alone,” she told a small group outside of Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus.
They gathered to remember victims of the destructive earthquake in Mexico and the hurricane that made landfall in Puerto Rico one month ago.
“We’ve heard what has been happening to our peers and their families and this is basically just us reaching out to them and letting them know that they have our support,” said Francis Marinez, president of the Syracuse University Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
While Canuelas tries to stay focused on earning a degree, her family is struggling in Puerto Rico.
“They’ve been almost a month without power, without water coming in and out, having problems finding food because there’s not a lot of food in the supermarkets,” she explained.
With help from the Student Association, Hendricks Chapel is leading a team of students on a relief mission to Puerto Rico in mid-December.
It’s a trip the Baptist Chaplain Devon Bartholomew sees as more of a blessing than a sacrifice.
He’s been on similar missions before and says there is “always a realization that there are people who are far more resilient than I am.”
Before the candlelight vigil ended, Chaplain Bartholomew said the chapel’s choir wanted to pause their rehearsal to come outside and share a song of hope.
Laura Canuelas stayed to listen.
“At the same time that this is a tragedy, it is also an opportunity for rebuilding,” she said. “Maybe now that we have been stripped of everything, not only can we build again, but build better and stronger.”