FROM THE HILL
The Campus Revs Up for a Man and His Wheels
By 6: 30 that morning, most of the Student Union staff on duty had heard. Manuel Rivera, a member of the housekeeping
staff, had been robbed.
Scott Hudson, the Union's associate director,
learned the story from a housekeeper as he can1.e
in. Rivera had been driving his red-and-white
motor scooter near Forest Theatre when a car
pulled up, causing hin1. to fall. A man climbed out,
pushed Rivera, 63, to the ground and stole the
scooter, his helmet and wallet. That was about
4: 40 a.m.
Hudson remembered the scooter well. In June,
Rivera had called some Union staff members out-
side to see his new purchase. "Here was this beautiful brand new Honda motor scooter," Hudson said.
"It was liberating for him. He could come and go.
It was his baby."
But it was a baby that required financing.
Rivera was still making payments seven months
later when the robbery occurred.
When Hudson went to find Rivera, a native of
EI Salvador who has worked for UNC for eight
years, he was still talking to police with the help of
"I could just tell the moment I saw him - he
just looked like somebody had knocked the wind
out of him," Hudson recalls. "It was a blow to
Rivera was at the Union the next day, a
Saturday, ready for work at 5 a.m. But something had
changed. "He was just not himself," Hudson said.
"He was very down in the dumps, and obviously
he had to deal with getting rides and the bus
By Monday, Hudson and other Union employees
decided something had to be done. They started
with a simple e-mail, asking recipients to help raise
enough to buy Rivera a new scooter, offered at a
discount by the dealer but still valued at about
$2,300. In less than two weeks, more than $4,000
had been raised - enough to pay Rivera's debt on
the stolen scooter, buy a new one and give him
$200 in cash.
Pablo Durana, who founded Carolina Language
Partnership, spearheaded the student part of the
fundraising effort. CLaP provides English-as-a-
second-language classes for UNC employees,
"Everyone just seemed to want to help,"
Durana said. "I sent out e-mails to friends. I made
announcements in big lecture classes and got a lot
of money there."
Donations came from the Chapel Hill conu11.U-
nity after reports of the robbery were in local
newspapers. Another e-mail went to a broader
I told him
to have faith,
care about him.'
Manuel Rivera and
- Emily Vasquez