When Hurricane Sandy struck New York, the results were devastating. One of the places that was hit the most was Rockaway, as homes were destroyed and people’s lives were shattered. The Molloy Saint Marcellin Champagnat Society felt the need to help our fellow New Yorkers after hearing about the amount of loss in Rockaway. Our drive to help was increased when we heard that almost 10% of Molloy students were affected by the storm.
The Saint Marcellin Champagnat Society is an organization dedicated to doing volunteer work at home and abroad. For the volunteer service in Rockaway, more than 40 volunteers made up of students, alumni, and faculty members from Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, Queens, were led by Brother Patrick Hogan and Christopher Dougherty for a week of service in the Rockaways. We worked alongside Michelle Cortez of a non-profit organization called Smallwater which is dedicated to rebuilding Rockaway by volunteer work, acting as a center of donation collection, distribution, and central information. She assigned us various projects throughout Rockaway, and with her help, we were able to do much needed work for its residents.
Each day held different jobs for us. First, we worked with a woman named Mrs. Winechimer at the Parish Hall at Saint Genevieve in Roxbury. She explained to us that we needed to remove weeds and trash that were left by the storm around the Parish Hall and in the playground. After a day of cleaning up, we were able to open up the playground for the children.
We then assisted Michelle Cortez in taking inventory of supplies and cleaning and even managed to give some supplies to FDNY Firefighters!
Kathy, a gardener for the NYC Parks Department, worked with us to cut away overgrown weeds at Beach 11th Street and the boardwalk. We weeded and cleaned a house of a woman named Sandy whose house was severely damaged after the storm. We also helped her daughter Teresa clean her yard and move her deck that was washed away during the storm.
This job was very emotional for both us and Teresa because she felt so relieved that someone was able to help her.
By the end of the week, we visited Rockaway Beach and ran into a sand sculpture competition where SMCS volunteer Lauren Velez created a sand mermaid and called it “Infinite Potential.”
We wanted to thank Michelle Cortez and the Smallwater Group for working with us. This incredible organization is aimed at helping restoring Rockaway through charity work, events, and distributing supplies to those in need.
We would also like to thank the Bungalow Bar at 377 Beach 92nd St for providing us delicious lunches during the week (we truly appreciated the free lunch on Monday).
This week has been very special for us spiritually. We had the opportunity to help out the people recovering from the storm, and realize just how much help is still needed in Rockaway.
We learned that if we want our dream of a better world to come true, we need to do acts of service, starting from our communities and beyond. That’s what we did and that’s what the people of Rockaway have been doing since Hurricane Sandy because it’s through hard work and charity that Rockaway will be rebuilt.