By Helin Gao
ZAP and Sigma Chi residents have led a recent fundraising effort to aid three dining staff workers and their family who were affected by a recent fire, raising over $19,000 in total.
Hugo Melgoza, a Sigma Chi kitchen assistant, and his family lost their home and possessions in an apartment fire on the night of May 15, and their insurance did not cover any of their possessions. Hugo’s uncle Nico — ZAP’s chef for almost a decade — and Hugo’s cousin Mariela — a ZAP hasher — also work at Stanford.
An online campaign by Sigma Chi has since raised $17,375 to help Hugo to date.
In an effort to further lend a hand, Maya Ghosn ’13, a ZAP resident, decided to set up a WePay donation page for Nico’s family.
“I wanted to almost empower our chef by giving him money that he could give to his relatives, so as to just add a supplemental donation,” Ghosn said.
According to the donation website, the campaign aims to raise $5,000 for Nico’s family by the end of the academic year. Within a week of the campaign’s launch, $2,010 had been raised.
“Some members of our staff have been incredible,” Ghosn said. “They have been emailing the donation page to their own lists and saying why they care.”
Ghosn singled out one ZAP staff member who made an exceptional effort to raise awareness in his community.
“I know this member of our staff who has been personally affected by the fire,” Ghosn said. “So he sent out an email to his own lists, saying ‘I have experienced it and I know how difficult it is.’ Because of that knowledge he sent out, we got 300 to 700 dollars.”
Apart from monetary donations, mainly ranging from $15 to $100, Ghosn also encouraged donations of clothing and housing appliances to buffer the family’s financial losses.
“Obviously everything is helpful, since they don’t have any insurance to cover their home and hence do really need everything,” Ghosn said. “They need to rebuild from scratch.”
According to Ghosn, enough clothing has been donated to fill three or four large trash bags.
“Instead of selling a lot of stuff at the end of the year, we just decided to donate it,” Ghosn said.
Ghosn attributed the generous response to Nico’s care for her and her fellow residents.
“I personally have a lot of food allergies,” Ghosn said. “So I think the reason I care so much about it is that Nico has been so good about it. Every time he cooks a meal, he cooks a special meal for me.”
Kevin Guo ’13 M.S. ’13, another ZAP resident, donated $50 to the campaign after hearing how the fire affected an integral part of the ZAP community.
“He always goes out of the way to answer any special request of us and he really makes an effort to try and talk to us individually,” Guo emphasized.
“We are all part of [the] Stanford community and many of his family are involved in [the] Stanford community,” Guo said. “So we should all help out in any way we can.”