Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Desiree Ventureira, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Kennedy searched for belongings not affected by flooding in the molded basement in Staten Island. For 2 hours she dug in a hot and fully contaminated space while wearing a hazard suit, gloves, and an air ventilator.
While many of her peers relax on a beach, Kennedy helped Staten Island recover from the devastation left from Hurricane Sandy by volunteering with Guyon Rescue, a non-profit organization.
Over March 8-12, 2015, 12 service-dedicated students from Cedar Crest College picked up tools to help with Hurricane Sandy disaster relief for this year’s Alternative Spring Break or ASB.
Alternative Spring Break is a weeklong program offered by colleges across the country. It is often set up through an organization called Break Away. Schools pay a yearly fee to hold a ‘chapter’ for the ASB program.
Cedar Crest College’s Alternative Spring Break Program has been running for more than 20 years. More than 180 students have participated.
“We actually used to take 2 separate trips”, said Tammy Bean, the Director of Community Service and advisor of ASB.
The program was most popular between the years of 2000-2005, but participation has been decreasing since then.
“In order for ASB to continue, it has come from the students,” Bean stated.
In the past, students have volunteered in Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, and West Virginia as part of ASB. Students have built ramps, painted, cleaned houses, pulled glue off floors, and worked at Habitat for Humanity’s Re-store, which sells items that have been donated and can be repurposed.
This year, students learned how to put up sheet rock, spackle, drill, and apply corner bead in houses that needed reconstruction. They also cleaned out basements, tents and trailers. They even tried to provide emotional support to the people affected from the storm by just listening and talking to them.
“I think [volunteering is] the most rewarding thing I did in my life and I recommend that everyone does it,” Derek Tabacco said, Co-founder of Guyon Rescue.
Kennedy agreed, “ASB has changed me in many ways. It has taught me how to be a volunteer, how to learn to appreciate the things I have, how to give back to my community, and how be a better person to myself and those around me.” This was Kennedy’s second ASB trip with Cedar Crest College.