You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘community’ tag.
I am writing to tell you about a Red Cross volunteer day to Far Rockaway, Queens, which you’ve probably heard about. The story of my last stint at the shelter in Long Island was posted on the CUNY SPS Community Blog, and I thank them for their initiative. It may also be on the Red Cross blog soon.
This stretch of land, Far Rockaway, is a peninsula on the south end of Queens/Long Island, just south of JFK airport, which was right in Sandy’s way and still has widespread power outages and fuel shortages.
The New York Red Cross organized a volunteer effort to cover some of the most affected areas, which are basically the last pockets without power. There is an info-graphic that compares three recent major storms.
This was also an interesting day. We met up with our Red Cross (ARC) friend and headed down to Floyd Bennett airfield where the National Guard, FEMA, ARC, etc., have set up with fuel tanker trucks, trailers, mass kitchens from the Southern Baptists, and so on. Anne and I were with an ARC member and we set out ahead of the volunteer bus to find the location where we were to meet the food trucks, and to let folks in the area know there would be hot food.
The drive to Far Rockaway over the bridge from the airfield was an eye-opener. Even big trees had toppled and the storm’s winds had spread the sand from the beach from the waterfront up to a few hundred yards inland. Written on a boarded-up McD’s was: “Nothing here 2 take. U R 2 late.” Some commentary on night-time activity. Smashed car windows told the same story.
People in those neighborhoods were tending to their homes, generating piles of rubble that sanitation crews were picking up here and there. Some streets were closed to traffic entirely, because of downed trees, downed cables, trash, or rubble. Utility crews, said to come from all over the country, were all throughout the neighborhood, working on power lines and assessing damage. Some unfortunate neighborhoods will always be the last to have services restored.
Much of the dislocation comes from the associated effects of not having power—no heat, communications, spoiled food, trash piling up, lack of fuel, totaled cars everywhere… The area has been without power since the storm 18 days ago, when the ocean water, 4 to 6 feet deep, rushed in and destroyed any electrical circuit it met—in cars, in fuse boxes on houses, street lights, garages. Generators were around by buildings, work sites, and on main streets and corners. Lines of hundreds waited in long lines for fuel trucks, carrying gas cans to fill up their cans and generators, all overseen by police officers.
We found that a church close by had clothing donation and distribution going on, and found people charging their phones on generators. The food trucks arrived soon, run by volunteers from California, Virginia, and other places. People soon started queuing up for a hot meal ready to go, but that didn’t compare to when the next truck, carrying a load of clean-up kits, diapers, and over 900 comfort kits (containing a blanket, flash light, batteries, wipes, hand sanitizer, hand warmers, and more) arrived. Since we had walked the neighborhood, we easily found three apartment complexes that lacked generators and the kits found their way into the crowds in less than an hour. Here a word about the volunteers. They came from schools and companies all over town and formed instant teams for canvassing, food prep, handing out supplies, and did it all with a compassionate and positive attitude.
There were bright spots. Some houses had remained dry and people had taken in others who had no place to go. Sometimes we were told that things were fine, or that neighbors were helping each other by sharing a generator. In another back yard we found a guy with a beer and a hearty “who cares”-laugh barbecuing.
The whole effort will have gone on for a few more days after the first one on Saturday, which we were part of. I am thankful for getting a chance to help, and that leads me, with a little smile, to a good opportunity to mention that a small donation to the Red Cross is a very easy and helpful way to support disaster relief, not just here, but all over the country.
One more thought. After Katrina hit New Orleans it became public knowledge that in a situation like this people really need to be prepared to get by on their own for 72 hours. Please consider checking a preparedness web site to make a plan. They say hindsight is 20/20, but sucks nonetheless, if enjoyed from a raft.
Best, as always,
PS: As always, these views are my own and do not reflect the views or positions of any other party, directly, or otherwise.
Michael Spieth is a graduate of the Advanced Certificate in Project Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Hi everyone, my name is Coy.
The year 2011 was a year of opportunities, challenges, and new experiences. My first semester as a CUNY SPS student greatly expanded my perspectives as I found myself introduced to the vast amount of resources we – students, workers, and citizens of a digital world – all have at our disposal. Now that 2011 is at a close, I find myself with an opportunity to reflect back on what drew me toward the CUNY SPS community……..
For the majority of Americans, acceptance into a university is considered a milestone – a portal of sorts that allows graduates entrance into a successful career and fulfilling life. University life is viewed with awe as hopeful high school graduates contemplate the schools they will attend, the courses they will study, the clubs they will involve themselves in, the people they will meet, and the knowledge they will exit with. The prospects of university life are often made better when it is considered that as college freshmen they may live on-campus and thus practice ‘real-life skills’ – such as meeting deadlines, budgeting, and time management – away from home. When the four (or more) years have been completed, the new graduate proudly displays their degree and promptly walks into a job which highlights the skills honed at the university. Although, current economic times render these oft-held expectations of university life improbable, many hopeful college entrants entertain such dreams. Up until July 8th 2011, I was one of these many college hopefuls, albeit, one with a slightly different story.
I am a tennis athlete who has always preferred homeschooling. Like many of my same-age peers with whom I grew up, I imagined myself playing for whichever university offered me a scholarship. I saw myself on the pristine courts of universities known for their tennis accomplishments such as UCLA or USC. Throughout my early years as a tennis player, prospects seemed good. I consistently played tournaments, amassed several tournament wins, and generally finished in the top ten of my respective age division. Things seemed to be on the right track until I was injured. Before I knew it, tennis had taken a backseat and my scholarship plans were halted. It was clear I would need to find an alternate method of attending a university.
Since my dreams of a college scholarship would not be fulfilled as I had hoped, I began taking community college courses. In the beginning, I had merely hoped to augment my high school education. However, as I took more and more community college classes, I began to consider the idea of transferring my units to a university and begin pursing a baccalaureate degree in earnest. I had gathered approximately seventy units and was anxiously researching universities to determine where I could go. I did not want to leave home so the program would have to be online; yet, I also wanted a rigorous instruction that would build upon the knowledge I had gained and challenge my ideas. By chance, I discovered City University of New York School of Professional Studies. Further investigation revealed that SPS offered online baccalaureate degrees and would accept up to ninety units. It seemed as if I had found the right program.
I contacted CUNY SPS and began the enrollment process. I tracked down transcripts, composed a personal statement, completed applications, and impatiently awaited a letter of acceptance. I received it July 8th and shortly thereafter began to correspond with my Academic Advisor. She proved very helpful as I secured my classes, responding to my questions and concerns in a timely and informed manner. I soon became acclimated to my classes and enjoyed a highly successful first semester as an SPS student. As the Spring Semester approaches, I am looking forward not only to my upcoming classes but also to engaging with the wider CUNY community through our Community Blog.