The power is back on and life has returned to normal for many who weathered Hurricane Sandy’s rampage more than three months ago. But for others, the hurricane struck more than the power grid, leaving local communities struggling to rebuild their homes and lives.
Since the hurricane, the University at large has been collecting donations, distributing goods, and volunteering to help communities affected by Sandy.
“On every level, the Fordham community has been and remains compassionately generous in responding to the extraordinary tragedy to be remembered forever simply as ‘Sandy,’” said Msgr. Joseph G. Quinn, vice president for University mission and ministry. “In prayer, donations, and kindnesses beyond counting, Fordham is striving to care for its neighbors whose lives have been so sadly upended by the devastation of this disaster.”
In addition to raising more than $25,000 in donations, groups of students, faculty, and staff have made several trips to affected communities, and more projects are scheduled throughout the spring semester.
In early January, a group of 11 students traveled to Breezy Point, Queens as part of a weeklong Global Outreach (GO) NYC trip. After working with the Bronx’s Part Of The Solution (POTS) program and bringing food to homeless individuals, the group spent a day in Breezy Point working on demolition and construction in houses that had been severely damaged by the storm.
“It was an intense experience for everyone, but it was also good to get out there and learn about what’s going on,” said Fordham College at Rose Hill senior Laura Buckley, who led the GO NYC trip. “There’s still much to be done.”
On Jan. 11, more than 90 resident assistants (RAs) and resident directors devoted a day of the winter RA training schedule to join Operation Blessing, a nonprofit international relief and development corporation working in Breezy Point.
The group helped clear debris, remove remnants from both the beach and a Sept. 11 memorial, and communicate with residents regarding their remaining needs.
“This horrible tragedy of Hurricane Sandy isn’t something that’s going to be remedied in the two weeks after it happened,” said Kim Russell, director of Residential Life. “You wouldn’t know that this storm happened months ago—it’s still pretty devastating there.”
Following the trip, many RAs expressed interest in returning to the area with the students who live on their floors, Russell said.
The Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice has organized a series of one-day outings known as “Sandy Saturdays” on the following dates: Feb. 9, Feb. 23, March 9, March 23, April 6, and April 20.
Volunteers will leave from the Rose Hill campus and travel to Breezy Point and the Far Rockaways to join Habitat for Humanity and other organizations already working in the area. Transportation and meals will be provided.
Fordham is requesting the help of faculty, staff members, and administrators to chaperone on the outings. Academic departments and University offices can also volunteer to sponsor one of the six remaining Saturdays.
Interested volunteers should contact the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice at (718) 817-4510.
“The Fordham family will continue to do all it can to ease the suffering, help carry the burdens and aid others in restoring their homes, their communities, and their lives,” Msgr. Quinn said.