hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

March 28, 2013

A different kind of spring break

Local students help in area ravaged by hurricane


Other students told him the effort would help them with their scholarship applications.

“They had to plan, organize, raise funds, contact the agencies they would volunteer with,’’ Morse said. “It put them in position to develop responsibility for themselves and those around them.’’

He said gaining such experience is a big benefit of a project like this.

The morning after they arrived in New York and settled in, the group met a group of volunteer advisers at Idlewild Park in the Jamaica section of Queens. The park is a large wildlife refuge and sanctuary with wooden walkways leading to marshlands and canoe access points along a tidal watershed.

“There, we met with the N.Y. Care organizers, who had helped us apply for the volunteer program,” Simon said.

Then — using rakes, shovels, cutters and debris bags — they worked from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with volunteers from other parts of the country to clean up the damaged refuge.

During the trip, they also witnessed the destructive result Mother Nature’s power can have on homes.

“I wanted to see for myself what happened,” said Terry, a liberal arts biology major at NECC. “I couldn’t imagine what it is like to lose your home and everything that you know and the impact that had on those people. I wanted to do something, to understand the sense of helplessness.’’

Next, the group headed into Brooklyn’s Red Hook district, which was hit hard by the hurricane.

“That was an experience for these students,” Morse said.

“I heard about the damage down there, but I wasn’t prepared for the devastation that I saw,” Simons said.

They met people from other parts of country who had volunteered through the AmeriCorps organization. Together, those volunteers and the NECC students worked to clear debris out of a three-story building. They put on protective suits and gloves before entering the building.

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