Elly Silberstein’s Alternative Spring Break Reflection: Day 4
To start out our final day, we split up into two groups again. My group worked on learning how to install insulation which included measuring spaces, cutting the insulation strips to the appropriate size, and using stapler guns to secure it into place. This was the first time throughout the trip that the impact of the damage really hit home for me. We were shown what parts of the house had to be torn down (which was pretty much the entire first floor) and also how much work had been done on the house already. We then helped a woman who also lived in the neighborhood move heavy furniture into a temporary home while her home was being uplifted. We learned about Project Uplift at our orientation at SBP. It’s an operation to lift houses off of their original foundations and set them on taller foundations to prevent flooding in the future. This reminded me of when I used to visit my grandparents in the Outerbanks. I would see uplifted houses there all of the time so I wasn’t sure why this wasn’t used previously in the community, but then our Site Leader explained to me that it was because no one had expected hurricanes to be an issue in the Rockaways. This really made me think about the community in the Rockaways and how much this disaster affected them and continues to affect them. The night before we had a long discussion about federal aid when it comes to natural disasters and the issues we are still facing today in terms of people not getting the help they need, specifically in lower-income areas. We discussed our own personal opinions on federal involvement as well as the realities of a lot of situations and it frustrated me to think that there are still so many people out there in need of disaster relief aid but they’re not getting it.
This leads me to my own personal reflection of Pace’s Alternative Spring Break as a whole. I never expected to create so many meaningful friendships and memories on a trip like this. I applied because I wanted to get involved in local community service project, but the trip turned out to be so much more than that for me. I was surrounded by people with a passion to promote positive change, people that were also choosing to spend their breaks helping local communities. Because I made personal relationships with the people with me on the trip, it allowed me to connect with the projects we were working on in a deeper way. It no longer felt like “just a community service project” but more so a greater experience as a whole. I hope to return to the Rockaways with the same group of people someday and continue our work there because there is still so much more to be done. I learned about not only what disaster relief really looks like but also how I can become an engaged citizen and help fortify people against unnecessary suffering. I hope that the work we did there continues to make an impact many years from now because I can definitely leave this trip knowing that the work will have a continual affect on me for years to come.