A Community Comes Together

March 19, 2012

We often speak of Hampden-Sydney as a community as well as a college.  In the early morning hours of January 25, 2012, tragedy struck the Hampden-Sydney community when the Benedict House, the residence of nine members of the Tiger Athletic Club (TAC), located on College Road at the edge of the campus near Rt. 15 was destroyed by fire.  All the possessions of the residents were also destroyed.

One student, Kirk M. Rohle '12 of Mechanicsville, sustained serious burns over the majority of his body and was flown to the VCU Medical Center in Richmond.  Kirk was released from the hospital last week and returned to classes at Hampden-Sydney on March 19.  Another student, Benjamin T. Rogers '12 of Mechanicsville, was treated on January 25th for minor burns at VCU Medical Center and released.

It is in time of tragedy that a community comes together, and the Hampden-Sydney community, with help from its friends, showed its best.  The immediate need was the restoration of some kind of normal living arrangements.  The Buildings & Grounds Department immediately prepared and furnished rooms in a former fraternity house and provided such basics as bed linens and towels.  The displaced students had a place to stay on the night of the 25th.  College Presbyterian Church stocked the new TAC quarters with snacks.  The Heritage Baptist Church quilting group provided handmade quilts.  ARAMARK made sure the men could access the dining hall without ID cards.  Many community members spontaneously brought clothes and small furniture items.  The H-SC Student Government and Sigma Nu at Longwood conducted clothes drives.

With basic needs met, attention turned to restoring the academic life of these young men.  President Christopher Howard provided the funds for the replacement of textbooks and the Bookstore donated basic school supplies.  Significant support came from Dell which donated a Latitude E6420 laptop to each student whose possessions were destroyed in the fire.  The gift was made possible by David Deck, a Dell Account Executive in Richmond and father of Daniel Deck '12,; Andrew Norris '01, a Dell Account Executive in South Carolina; and Rob Baxter, a Dell Senior Account Executive in Richmond.

Students Receiving Dell Computers(Left to Right)  Daniel Deck '12, August Berling '12, Andrew Thacker '12, Rob Baxter, Matt Maloney '12, Drew Norris '01, Josh Phipps '12, Seth Austin '12, Travis Lane '12, David Shuford '12, and Ben Rogers '12.

To assist with general expenses for the nine men, the H-SC Student Government had a Dorm Storm fundraiser which raised over $1000.  A fund was established by Hampden-Sydney alumni and friends to pay medical deductibles, co-payments, and medical expenses not covered by their health insurance and deductibles on personal property loss and damage.  The fund has over $31,000 in hand.

Burned H-SC student returns to class - Richmond Times-Dispatch 3/20 

Beamer reaches out to Hampden-Sydney burn victims - Richmond Times-Dispatch 3/15
H-SC community rallies after fire - Richmond Times-Dispatch 2/11
Hampden-Sydney fire rescue attempt spurred by friendship  - Richmond Times-Dispatch 1/27