UI student entrepreneurs aim to bring relief to battered East Coast


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Though coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction appears to be waning, one group of University of Iowa students is eager to bring a renewed sense of urgency about the lingering devastation caused by the late October storm.

According to a recent New York Times article, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimates the latest price tag for the damages in the New York City metropolitan area could surpass $42 billion. Just across the Hudson River, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie estimates the damage to his state could be as much as $29.4 million.

Hawk Team Six — a group of 70 social entrepreneurs enrolled in the UI Social Entrepreneurship course — is focusing its innovative spirit and guerilla marketing skills to bring attention to a lesser-known entities such as community animal shelters and fire departments.

The group’s name draws from the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6, which brought down Qaeda founder and 9/11 terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

“Hawk Team Six isn’t just something for this semester,” UI senior and Hawk Team Six group coordinator Daniel Altosino said. “We hope it continues to carry on into the future and serves as a model for future classes.”

They will host the Last Hooyah Before Finals Hurricane Sandy charity event at the Summit Bar and Restaurant, 10 S. Clinton St., from 8-10 p.m. today. No amount of proceeds from this event will be directed into the pockets of Hawk Team Six members.

Brad Temple, general manager of the Summit, said events similar to the one this evening are necessary to establish an active role in the community. He said it’s time for the restaurant to get out of the old cloud and usher in a sense of new ideas.

“One of the important aspects of the new ownership of the Summit is to be involved in the community and give back,” he said. “I think anytime there are people in need, people should respond to that. Ever since we’ve established our country, we’ve always been a country based on helping others out. It [Hurricane Sandy] really hits home for many in the community.”

The group, facilitated by lecturer Joseph Sulentic, aims to aid in the recovery efforts for the multitude of battered animal shelters and community hubs such as fire stations that dot the now devastated Eastern seaboard.

The Social Entrepreneurship class has been aiding hard-hit areas of the United States and abroad for a number of years. Past efforts have aided the recovery of New York Fire Department stations in the wake of 9/11 and the highly impoverished areas of Africa.

At a time when many in the UI community are gearing up for the end of the semester and are anxiously awaiting their arrival home, Hawk Team Six’s efforts remain in full swing. Over the past few days, the group has initiated intense marketing tactics, including “chalking” the UI’s T. Anne Cleary Walkway and working with a handful of downtown businesses to grab local attention.

Altosino said one of the next steps to get the word out of the initiative is to partner with local clothing stores to have the Hawk Team Six’s t-shirts displayed in store windows.

Although the event is being held in a bar, Altosino stressed the importance of the event being geared toward both the social and professional aspects that he says Iowa City is synonymous with.

Burke hopes this evening does not only result in student participation but community-wide turnout.

“The reason for the original idea for the bar crawl was to get students in and involved, but we realized we didn’t want to limit it just to students,” UI senior and event coordinator Lindsay Burke said. “We want to have the entire community involved. It feels really cool to be involved in something this big.”

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