Queensborough Community Volunteers, Lifts Spirits in Hurricane Sandy Recovery Zones

St. Anthony’s Church is an interfaith outreach relief center in Oceanside, Long Island, where 60-percent of homes flooded during Hurricane Sandy. On Saturday, November 17, students and faculty from the Business Department at Queensborough Community College gathered in the church’s recreation center to make a big difference.

Facing a mountain of clothing, the group began sorting the winter apparel. Students Shirley Aguilar and Julie Ann Belaustegui spoke with a six-year-old boy from Oceanside who told them his shoes “floated away.” He was thrilled as they assembled two large bags of clothing for him, including sneakers and a sweatshirt.

“Being able to help people, especially vulnerable children, makes the coming holidays that much more poignant and meaningful,” said Dr. Christine Mooney, a faculty advisor for the Fed Challenge Team.

Dr. Mooney is a member of St. Anthony’s Church and took the call to volunteer. “My colleagues and I decided to put together a QCC volunteer team,” she says. “In two days, we collected over 100 cans of food and three large bags of clothing.”

“Our students were devoted to the cause and never stopped working, even when it was time for a break,” said Professor Ted Rosen, faculty advisor for the Mock Trial Team. “By the time we were done, the recreation center’s floor, most of which had been covered with piles of clothing, was cleared.”

View more photos from the volunteer efforts.

Business student Ross Dong put his retail experience to work, meticulously folding clothes. He said, “I hope they felt our warmth and care.”

Business faculty members Edward Hanssen, Kelly Ford, Sebastian Murolo, Leslie Francis, and Stephen Hammel led the effort, hanging hundreds of clothing items on coat racks, separated into men, women, children, and size categories.

On the ride back to campus, students talked about how they would go back in a heartbeat.

“It felt good to help,” said Tao Cheng, a first-year business student. “Lots of people from the community were there, including a woman who donated a turkey. If there is another volunteer opportunity, I would like to be part of it.”

On Tuesday, November 20, several faculty members and student volunteers from QCC’s Nursing Department helped the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) in its recovery efforts.

They traveled with the VNSNY to help conduct a Friendly Visit Outreach and Assessment effort in the Fox Beach area of Staten Island – hit hard by the storm – to identify environmental, medical, and mental health support needs.

“This is an eye-opening opportunity for our nursing students to work as a team outside the classroom, learning first-hand—under the guidance of professionals—the dire health-related consequences of this historic storm,” said Professor Anne Marie Menendez, chair of nursing.

The nursing department previously partnered with the VNSNY as part of an outreach effort in the Rockaways, meeting with families to help determine their health necessities.

Following the volunteer projects, nursing students will write a reflection piece on the Service Learning component of the experiences, connecting their academic knowledge with the service learning mission of positive civic engagement.

Student organizations are also pitching in to help. Members of the Haitian Club represented Queensborough in the Rockaways over the weekend of November 17. They set up a small relief station to offer clothing they had collected, as well as hot chocolate, donuts, and a few warm words.