UIS volunteers support Sandy relief effort
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While many students traveled home to begin their summer plans, ten UIS volunteers traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey to help those affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012. According to dosomething.org, Hurricane Sandy caused over $62 billion in damage to the United States, left 7.5 million people without power, and killed over 285 people. Back in the winter months, Brittani Provost and Will Newton, now sophomores at UIS, felt strongly about helping the East Coast recover from the devastating storm and began to plan the week-long trip that took place at the start of the summer. “From the research we had done on the effects of the hurricane, New Jersey seemed to be the most affected area,” said Provost. “We decided our efforts would be most needed there.” Throughout the months prior to the set departure date, Provost and Newton recruited students and organized a car wash that helped pay for the trip. On top of the money raised from the car wash, donations from the Student Government, Vice Chancellor, and Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center allowed for a low cost trip to participants. On May 19, nine students along with their advisor, Mark Dochterman, packed up a van and began the 14-hour drive to New Jersey. Over the course of the week, participants helped paint, sand, clean and do light construction on four different homes that were affected by the hurricane in a variety of ways. They also partook in demolition within one of the homes. The students were even given the opportunity to speak to a few of the homeowners. “They shared what might be considered difficult memories of what had happened during the storm and how the damage was affecting them,” said Provost. “While this was disheartening to hear at times, it really helped to make the whole situation real and made it much more meaningful.” During their free time, participants were able to walk along the boardwalk of Atlantic City and visit the numerous shops scattered among it. They even visited and climbed the Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse. In addition to this, the group traveled to the nearby town of Ocean City, which allowed for more exploration. According to Dochterman, the timing of the trip was new to UIS. Previous service projects similar to this one have been held, but never one at the start of the summer. “The early summer trip worked out well. I would be up for one again if students want to put the work in to make it happen,” he said.