E-Net News

Students visit New York to work on Superstorm Sandy relief

For the second year in a row, the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement organized a "Fake Break" program to help communities still recovering from the 2012 hurricane.

Ten Elon University students and three staff advisers traveled to Long Island in New York between the end of Winter Term and the start of the spring semester to support local agencies that aid homeowners in their continuing recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

It was the second year the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement offered the program.

Fifteen months after Superstorm Sandy affected thousands in the area, many homeowners are still struggling to rebuild and replace damaged items. The group worked with the non-profit organization Nechama—Jewish Response to Disaster, one of the few still working in the Long Island area. Long Island alone had over 100,000 homes affected by this storm with many people lacking the money or skills to rebuild on their own.

The group spent four days working with local homeowners whose houses are in the finishing stages of recovery. Students were able to hear firsthand about the storm and the long process people have gone through trying to get back into their homes.

Many students said they were personally touched by these stories and hope to continue to keep helping this community suffering so many hardships. Along with service, students were able to visit New York City and connect with local Elon alumni and Elon families.  

Alexander Taylor ‘16 and Jillian Somero ’14 coordinated the program, planning logistics, service sites, and the educational components of the experience.

"Instead of looking at the big picture of a disaster (how many homes were damaged, how many lives lost, how much it cost economically, etc.) programs like this allow students to focus in on the story of a few people," Somero said. "Understanding personal stories makes the service meaningful and allows one to get a better understanding of how a disaster affects everyday life. Being able to relate to and sympathize with homeowners is so rewarding, and it is even better when we are able to provide some sort of relief to their situation, no matter how small." 

This program is one of 14 international and domestic experiences offered through the Alternative Breaks Program. For more information on the Alternative Breaks program or for general information on how to serve in local communities, contact Evan Small at esmall@elon.edu or call 336-278-7250.

- Information for this story was submitted by Evan Small in the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement

Eric Townsend,
2/19/2014 5:15 PM