“The homeowners walked in and the first thing they said was thank you.” ASB Day 2: Elizabeth Garcia, Michael Tropeano, Lindsay Burgess, & Ruchika Bagga

11084646_649245295203014_863328440_nElizabeth Garcia

When Hurricane Sandy hit, I remember seeing it on TV and thinking how horrible it was. However, I lived in California at the time and never really gave it much thought after it was on the news. One day, I was walking in the hallway at school and an ASB flyer caught my eye. After attending the interest meetings and filling out the application, I was in!

I had heard that even after two years, some in the Rockaways were still struggling to rebuild their homes. I was expecting to see many homes that weren’t built and for us to be working with houses that were only frames. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. When I arrived to the house I was working at, there had been significant progress. My group’s assignment was to finish putting up drywall all over the lower floor. Some of us worked in the laundry room, others in a bathroom, and my group and I worked in a closet under the stairs. We worked from about 10 am to 4 pm (with a lunch break, of course). After we were finished, it was amazing to see all we had accomplished, not only in our small teams, but overall in the whole house.

So far, my favorite part of this trip has been meeting everyone that I am working with. All the students here were willing to give up their Spring Break to help others. Also, meeting the people whose home we are rebuilding felt wonderful. They were so grateful and it is a great feeling knowing we are making a difference in someone’s life. I can’t wait to see how much we accomplish tomorrow because we now know what has to be done and how to do it. I believe this will speed along the process so we can work much faster and get more done over the next couple of days.

10958758_340834359445854_608612860_nMichael Tropeano

Today was a great day. It started off early, but it was completely worth it. I got split in to the group doing drywall and I loved it. The experience ASB is providing me is amazing. I can’t imagine what the people of Rockaway went through when Sandy hit, but I am so blessed that I can lend a hand and be a part of the rebuilding process. I was shocked to see all the damage left after two years, but I’m glad to see that there are organizations such as Friends of Rockaway still there caring for the people. The greatest part of my day was when the man whose house we were working on came in. He had just received electricity back after two years! He was so happy and I could not help but smile. He truly made my day better, and I certainly hope, by us lending a hand, he felt better tonight.

11017596_833872016684380_1446770355_nLindsay Burgess

Today was a very interesting day. I worked in a home with other students on dry wall in the front of the home. The rest of the students worked in another home. Dry wall is fun if you know what you’re doing but it can be frustrating when the framing of the home was done poorly to begin with. The window was a bit of a challenge because we had to measure a slant, which is far from easy. In addition, I worked on a huge wall. I was excited to see that we made so much progress by the end of the day. The homeowners walked in and the first thing they said was thank you. In fact, they thanked us several times. That really hit my heart because last year, I didn’t meet anyone who was directly impacted. I couldn’t stop smiling and saying you’re welcome because it helped me to realize that every little bit you do makes a difference. Sometimes I wish I could take on more but seeing how appreciative they were helped me to appreciate the progress that I considered to be “small.” Every little bit counts so I’m humbled to be here another year.

I got the opportunity to see Dan again; he’s in charge of The Wave. The Wave is a local newspaper in the Rockaways. I never preferred the term “super storm Sandy” but he made it clear that he considered it offensive. I wondered how other people felt about that phrase too. It made me more aware of how mindful we have to be when we are in the area. We have to be careful not to offend anyone and help in any way that we can, even it’s not natural for us. This community has experienced so much chaos and I’m hoping that even more will be completed by next year.

11049384_835809939797873_403313154_nRuchika Bagga

Today I learnt many new skills like drilling and putting up dry walls. I got to bond a lot more with our ASB team as well. They are all so friendly, it takes this experience to a whole new level. We still have another 2 days to go, and I’m going to cherish them!