buildOn Members in New York, Connecticut Serve Communities Affected by Sandy

Information compiled by buildOn’s Stephanie Gilman and Vernon Sanders

Thousands of people were without power last week and many are still without food, water and shelter. The devastation from Superstorm Sandy, one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the East Coast in decades, was humbling. buildOn staff and students have been mobilizing to help out recovery efforts all over New York and Connecticut.

Projects completed in New York

Students removed debris and fallen trees alongside community partner The Bronx Is Blooming. Students were able to clean up three parks in the Bronx: Joyce Kilmer, Franz Sigel and Mullaly.

    Students from three high schools worked on a cleanup project at Brook Park in the Bronx with community members and Banana Kelly teachers. Students helped clean vegetable beds, pick up trash around the park, clear out a fallen willow tree, and rake leaves.

    Over a dozen students served close to 100 meals at a soup kitchen located at Grace Episcopal Church in the Bronx.

    35 students from Brooklyn and the Bronx helped collect canned goods and supplies at Pathmark on 125th Street in Harlem. All of the goods went to NYPD Community Affairs at Aqueduct Racetrack.

    Brooklyn students went to help sort food and supplies as part of the Red Hook Recovers effort. Volunteers helped out with various needs, from monitoring supplies to handing out food stamp applications and vouchers to the residents of the area.

    Banana Kelly High School students, alumni and teachers served seniors at St. Vincent De Paul Residence. Our members provided seniors with some much-needed company and companionship, as many of their regularly scheduled visits from family members were canceled due to the hurricane.

    Upcoming projects in New York

    Students from the Validus Preparatory Academy’s Youth Engagement Zone will be delivering meals to home-bound seniors at the Carter Burden Center for the Aging in Manhattan.

    Students will prepare bags of food at the Chance for Children food pantry in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

    A group from six Bronx high schools will be making sandwiches to bring down to the Bowery Mission, a soup kitchen on the Lower East Side.

    We will be running a canned food drive for Manna of Life Ministries in the Bronx.

Projects completed in Connecticut

buildOn staff created a Super Storm Challenge. It was difficult for staff to mobilize students during the immediate aftermath of the storm due to safety conditions on the streets. To avoid unsafe travel, program coordinators came up with a list of service activities students could do from their home or remote locations. Some of these tasks included assisting their neighborhoods, or gathering old clothes or items that could be used as supplies for those in need. This list was posted on Facebook and various students took part.

Students participated in various cleanups in Stamford and Bridgeport. Stamford students connected with the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and cleaned up local neighborhoods and trails. Bridgeport students went to The Jewish Home for the Elderly to clean up debris from their property and proceeded to interact with the seniors who lived in the facility.

On Saturday, families were invited by Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now to receive information about services available to them post-Sandy. Our volunteers helped serve warm meals and entertained children by helping them with crafts and other activities.

Students at Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High School helped sort food they collected at food drives. The food is going to the Christian Community Action food pantry.

Upcoming Connecticut Projects

We have organized a major cleanup effort with the Blighted Houses Department of Bridgeport City Hall. Our students will be focused on the East Side of Bridgeport.

Student will be helping pick up trees and clearing trails at Farm Creek Preserve in Rowayton, Conn.

We will work with Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now to serve meals to those who need them. Together, we’ll be unloading and sorting donations collected by General Electric and AmeriCares. As part of this project, students will knock on doors to fill out the needs of families for assessment surveys.

Students from various schools in Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport will be hosting food and supplies drive to send to communities in need. We plan to partner with Domus, a local nonprofit that helps over a thousand children and their families experience academic and life success through our educational, residential, and community programs.