In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, students from the College of Staten Island (CSI) are working with All Hands to help rebuild their community. CSI has spread the word about volunteering with All Hands, providing students with the opportunity to assist the community with recovery efforts. CSI students represent a number of campus organizations, ranging from athletic clubs to student life to student government – and even more students volunteer independently with All Hands.
Two of the CSI students who volunteer are Monica Sivri and Kawsara Hassan. Monica and Kawsara both live in Brooklyn and make the almost two-hour commute to CSI everyday. And on the weekends they show up to volunteer with All Hands – they consider it their “weekend job.” Since their first volunteer experience three months ago, they have come back almost every weekend to volunteer.
Monica Sivri is a 20-year-old sophomore studying political science and international studies.Two days after the storm Monica came to volunteer with her athletic department. While she has volunteered in the past, working with All Hands in the communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy was unlike anything she had experienced before. Several students attending CSI were from the communities impacted by the storm. Monica had the opportunity to work on a home where a friend and classmate lived before the storm. “Many people didn’t know that this was affecting some of our own students.”
Due to language barriers, several Staten Island families weren’t getting the assistance they needed. Monica, fluent in Spanish and originally from Ecuador, was able to help translate for several families. Working on Sandy relief efforts with All Hands, sparked Monica’s desire to continue volunteering. “I would love to continue to do more volunteer work. It has made me grow so much because I have connected with so many people that I would never (ordinarily) get to know. I appreciate what I have learned and know I can apply it. You learn from all the people (involved).”
Monica worked with All Hands’ Team Leader Bruce Jones, who not only showed her the ropes around job sites, but who also became a role model for her, inspiring her to continue to volunteer in the future. “He has been doing volunteer work for so long, working overseas and everything, it’s amazing.”
Kawsara Hassan is also a 20-year-old CSI sophomore, majoring in international studies and photography. “When I first came out to volunteer we had about a dozen people in one house. It was probably the best volunteer experience I ever had. Everyone just worked together. It was fun being around such an open and kind group of people.”
While volunteering, Kawsara has had the opportunity to talk to team leaders and volunteers, some of whom have worked on All Hands international projects in Haiti and the Philippines. Hearing their stories helped broaden the scope of how Kawsara is considering volunteering in the future. “All Hands to me is a blessing. It’s a beautiful thing that I can just come down and sign a waiver, and I can help. I feel like it definitely has a strong presence on the Island and in other places around the world.”
All Hands is able to play a crucial role in the recovery effort because of the commitment of our team leaders and volunteers.Anyone interested in volunteering with All Hands please visit http://hands.org/2013/02/06/calling-volunteers/. Residential spots are available for volunteers interested in staying at our bases in Long Beach and Staten Island.
Anyone who has experience leading teams of volunteers and who is interested in becoming an All Hands team leader, visit http://hands.org/2012/11/30/team-leader-openings/