Queens College Campus Serves as Shelter to Hundreds Following Storm

FLUSHING, NY, June 19, 2013 — On campus and off, QC has been helping the community to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Although classes were canceled from October 29 through November 1, the college snapped into action right after the storm: Members of Buildings & Grounds and Security—some of whom spent more on travel than they’d earn in that day’s pay—worked round the clock to restore power, clear away debris, and repair damage.

In addition, these employees provided services to the shelter that the New York City Office of Emergency Management established at QC, one of 10 CUNY schools that took in displaced people. OEM set up shop in FitzGerald Gymnasium, the Dining Hall, and the One Stop Service Center. Nearly 600 adults and children, as well as their pets, found refuge in these facilities, managed, coincidentally, by QC alums Harry Sigmone III and Diane Gilroy. Most of the residents came from the Rockaways; wherever they had been living, all were relocated to longer-term accommodations before Thanksgiving.

QC students raised funds, donated food and clothing, and pulled night shifts at the shelter. Students from the Aaron Copland School of Music presented a concert for shelter residents and staff; the Committee for Disabled Students engaged a magician and a balloon twister to entertain kids. Other students participated in projects throughout the city.

Meanwhile, QC employees drew on their expertise and contacts. Human Resources collected donations and supplies, and fielded phone calls from the community. “Some calls were from people looking for their relatives,” explains Susan Mavrelis (HR). “Others were from individuals and local companies who just wanted to help in any way they could.”

The Division of Education worked with the PTA at PS/IS 499 to buy supplies for children temporarily placed at that school. Career Counselor Mark Klein enlisted the help of family, friends, and members of his synagogue, Temple Gates of Prayer in Flushing, resulting in significant contributions from local vendors: Oneness Foundation- Heart Restaurant brought and served hot food to over 400 individuals in the shelter, while the Queens Health Emporium contributed several cases of water and snacks.

Students are also among the people who suffered from the storm. “The investment, allocation, and executive committees of the Queens College Foundation unanimously decided to allot up to $100,000 to help students affected by the hurricane,” says Assistant VP Laurie Dorf (Institutional Advancement). “It was a very easy decision. We want to help students with housing, food, and transportation issues to ensure that they remain enrolled in school and take the same number of courses.” Grants will be available through June 30, 2013.

For more about Queens College visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Pages/default.aspx

Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services