Alternative Spring Break 2016

April 18, 2016 BK LI

Alternative Spring BreakSJC Brooklyn and SJC Long Island volunteers travel to South Carolina, restore homes devastated by mass flooding

by Margaret Liendo

Last year, thousands of South Carolina residents experienced the devastation caused by the heavy, continuous rain throughout the month of October. Several locations throughout the state experienced 24-hour rainfall that surpassed that of any tropical cyclone in South Carolina history. In the end, the floods had taken the lives of seventeen individuals and left many with damaged and uninhabitable homes.

After news of the great devastation circulated nationwide, concerned students and faculty at St. Joseph’s College decided to take part in the ongoing restoration effort. Twenty-six driven students and four staff members from SJC Brooklyn and SJC Long Island volunteered to spend their spring breaks helping to restore affected homes. “You’re part of something much bigger when you step into the world of service,” Pat Tracy, Campus coordinator and fellow staff-volunteer, mentioned as he, and the other volunteers, made the 13-hour drive down to South Carolina.   

Alternative Spring Break

In cooperation with Community Collaborations International, the volunteers and staff spent their week divided at four different sites located in Manning and Summerton. Although the volunteers were used to starting work right away, they could not do so because of inclement weather. However, what was predicted to be mass thunderstorms, ended up turning into a sunny day, which volunteers decided to spend exploring the beautiful city of Charleston. 

After sightseeing, volunteers were more prepared and anxious to begin working at the different sites. Three of the four sites had experienced black mold in the walls and ceilings, which was a serious health hazard for the residents. The site in Manning was particularly in bad shape because the volunteers on that site not only would have had to strip away large sections of the old roof, but they also would have had to work on the insulation within the home. This project was particularly intense and demanded a lot of effort from the volunteers, but like fellow volunteer Angela Vetere, said, “you always remained determined to get up every day and put your best foot forward.” 

The work brought many new experiences for the volunteers at each site, from finding a bat while removing the insulation to learning how to use a drill for the first time. But the one experience that the volunteers said made it all worthwhile was knowing how they impacted the lives of the families. “It is always great to be able to work together and bring a sense of joy and happiness to families that are in desperate need of assistance,” student-volunteer Katherine Escobar commented.

This remarkable and extraordinary group of volunteers definitely positively impacted the families and also gained much more. Like Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” The volunteers all left with great memories and they are just anxious to see what the next alternative spring break trip brings!

Alternative Spring Break