ALFRED — An Alfred State College relief team including nine students and three staff members spent the week before Christmas helping communities continue the cleanup from Hurricane Ian.
The team made the trip to Fort Myers, Fla. in conjunction with the All Hands & Hearts organization. It departed Dec. 17 and assisted efforts to remove debris left from the Category 4 storm that hit the west coast of Florida in late September.
Past family experiences led Karina Seeley of Harpursville, Broome County, to want to be a part of this trip.
“When I was younger Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown area hard, and it was the help of my family and the community that made it easier to rebuild my cousin’s house,” she said in a news release. “The trip itself was very self-fulfilling.”
Alyssa Burdick of Valley Falls, Rensselaer County, said that every person on the trip had different duties and tasks assigned to them.
“Tasks were anything from taking out a shower from a bathroom; removing staples from the wooden structure for six hours; salvaging the homeowner’s belongings; moving washing machines; or even sanitizing houses for mold control,” she said. “We all left this trip knowing how to do something that we didn’t know how to do before. The variety of skills and knowledge I learned from this trip will be things I will take with me in my future.”
The team also included Nicole Hume of Batavia, Ethan Kuhn of Holley, Alimat Akanbi of Ozone Park, Dylan Guy of Wilson, Alex Komara of Farmington, Emma Smithers of Canandaigua, and Maddox Windus of Genesee.
ASC President Dr. Steven Mauro along with Greg Sammons, vice president for student affairs, and Daniel Woolston, assistant director of health and wellness, joined the students on the trip.
“I have been on over a dozen such trips like this in my time in higher education,” Seeley said. “I can say with great certainty that this group of students were the hardest working and inclusive group that I have ever led. They came together as a team and really made a difference. I could not have been prouder of them.”
The team returned home Dec. 22 and Burdick knows the work made a difference.
“I truly felt like we made an impact on people’s lives,” she said. “I learned that when disaster happens, people, like the ones I had the pleasure of meeting through All Hands and Hearts, will step up to the plate and give the shirt off their back if it means helping others. These people inspired me to want to do better in my own community and I hope I will have the opportunity to work with them again in the future.”
All Hands and Hearts is an organization committed to effectively and efficiently addressing the immediate and long-term needs of global communities impacted by disasters. The organization arrives early for first response and stays late to rebuild schools and homes in a disaster-resilient way.
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