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Alfred State sends relief team to Florida to help in aftermath of Hurricane Ian

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A team of 12 from Alfred State College traveled to Fort Myers, FL and worked with All Hands and Hearts on Hurricane Ian cleanup the week before Christmas

An Alfred State College (ASC) relief team, nine students and three staff members, spent the week before Christmas in Fort Myers, FL helping communities continue the cleanup from Hurricane Ian. Nine students and three staff members made the trip in conjunction with the All Hands & Hearts organization.

The group that left Alfred on Dec. 17 consisted of nine students and three staff members. During their trip they helped with the continuing efforts to remove debris left from the Category 4 storm that hit the west coast of Florida in late September. The group returned home on Dec. 22.

Past family experiences led Karina Seeley (Harpursville, NY – Business Administration) to want to be a part of this trip. “When I was younger Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown area hard, and it was the help of my family and the community that made it easier to rebuild my cousin’s house. The trip itself was very self-fulfilling.”

Alyssa Burdick (Valley Falls, NY – Forensic Science Technology) described that every person on the trip had different duties and tasks assigned to them. “Tasks were anything from taking out a shower from a bathroom; removing staples from the wooden structure for 6 hours; salvaging the homeowner’s belongings; moving washing machines; or even sanitizing houses for mold control. We all left this trip knowing how to do something that we didn’t know how to do before. The variety of skills and knowledge I learned from this trip will be things I will take with me in my future.”

Seeley and Burdick were joined by Alimat Akanbi (Ozone Park, NY – Construction Management), Dylan Guy (Wilson, NY – Web Development), Nicole Hume (Batavia, NY – CNC Machining and Manufacturing), Alex Komara (Farmington, NY – Automotive), ), Ethan Kuhn (Holley, NY – Forensic Science), Emma Smithers (Canandaigua, NY – Nursing), and Maddox Windus (Genesee, NY – Heavy Equipment Truck & Diesel Technician).

ASC President Dr. Steven Mauro along with Greg Sammons, vice president for student affairs, and Daniel Woolston, assistant director of health and wellness, joined the students on the trip. “I have been on over a dozen such trips like this in my time in higher education. I can say with great certainty that this group of students were the hardest working and inclusive group that I have ever led. They came together as a team and really made a difference. I could not have been prouder of them.”

“I loved the trip,” commented Seeley.  “I think every single one of us has said that we would love to come back again and do another trip like this. The crew at All Hands and Hearts made it an amazing atmosphere, and although we were doing hard work it was a great mental break after the semester.”

Burdick knows the work the team did made a difference. “I truly felt like we made an impact on people’s lives. I learned that when disaster happens, people, like the ones I had the pleasure of meeting through All Hands and Hearts, will step up to the plate and give the shirt off their back if it means helping others. These people inspired me to want to do better in my own community and I hope I will have the opportunity to work with them again in the future.”

All Hands and Hearts is an organization committed to effectively and efficiently addressing the immediate and long-term needs of global communities impacted by disasters. The organization arrives early for first response and stays late to rebuild schools and homes in a disaster-resilient way. For more information on the organization visit: https://www.allhandsandhearts.org/

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