Alternative Spring Break: Day 2 – Kristel

Today was our first volunteering day. We were all excited about it. After a big breakfast at Wagner dining hall, we headed to the office of “All hands”, the association we are working with. The members of the association gave us T-shirts and we were all divided up into 3 groups, each of them going to work on a different place. I was in a group of 3, with Tania and Alex. We worked all day repairing a small house. The mission of the day was to treat the house against mold. With Skippy, the coordinator on this project, we sprayed the walls and floor of the house, then scrubbed and rinsed. The work was not unpleasant at all as we all worked together in a great atmosphere and Skippy was really cheering. We were also very lucky as the weather was really nice that day. Three other members of the volunteer group worked together vacuuming the mold in another house. The other ten students worked in a bigger house. They worked hard removing the walls and floor of the house.

This first day of volunteering was really great. We had the nice feeling of seeing what we had done at the end of the day. We knew the owner of the house is in need and that was such a pleasure to feel useful. We would have loved to meet these people we were helping, being able to talked to them and ask them questions about what happened, their feeling… but that was sadly impossible. After this intense working day, we listened to Bill Johnson, a long-time Staten Island inhabitant and activist. He explained what happened because of super storm Sandy and why it happened: the damaged areas are located below the ocean level. He told us about his actions to promote democracy and mutual aid: every single year since he came back from Vietnam, he has walked around the island to talk to people. This conference was very interesting. The key words were accounting and due diligence: the government must be more vigilant, this catastrophe was predictable, it should not have happened. Bill Johnson is a greatly involved person and his speech was so moving and inspiring. This man is definitely a good person and a leader, which is why he easily convinced all of us of the importance of getting involved in helping our community.

We ended this great day with group activities: we watched a movie together and played board games. That was really fun and we got to know each other very well. I am happy and proud of belonging to this great group of volunteers!