Interview conducted by Christian Huisman
Q. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A. I am a senior at Villanova. Community is a very important part of my life. My aunt lost her house to Sandy and three years later is still rebuilding. I wanted to lead a trip to come help rebuild for a cause that is so close to my heart.
Q. Where were you when Superstorm Sandy hit?
A. I was a freshman in college. It was recommended for all students to go home, but I stayed on campus because going home would have meant being closer to the storm. Everyone got a holiday and everyone thought it was fun mini–vacation, but they didn’t really think about the impact the storm had on so many people.
Q. What called you to be a part of the rebuild effort?
A. Since it was my senior year I felt called to lead a service trip. Villanova built a list of service opportunities and Presbyterian Hope in Action was on that list. Since I have a friend from a beach town and my aunt lost her home in the storm, pairing with Presbyterian Hope in Action seemed like the best option organization for me to work with. It was great to see the people on the trip, those who didn’t have a personal connection to the storm, wanted to give back just as badly as I did.
Q. What benefits have you found in volunteering?
A. The group that I served with bonded through stories, experiences, and things we saw that we didn’t expect. We still feel so connected. I think we grew together through getting a different understanding of the situation. To see how much New York was hit, not just New Jersey, really shed a new light on Sandy for all of us. The biggest take away for me is that everyone has a story. If a person looks like they are in a good state, you can’t take that at face value. It is important to remember that everyone’s past plays a part in how they got the where they are today, in this moment.
Q. What would you say to someone who has yet to volunteer in the Sandy rebuild process?
A. I would want to know what is holding them back! I would tell them that they would learn a lot more than they think they would. You come out with not just a social knowledge but also a physical knowledge by learning different construction methods. I would tell them how I changed as a person and how one person’s impact can make a world of difference. People often forget how much they can offer others. I can’t think why someone wouldn’t want to get involved.
Q. Any other thoughts?
A. I think it would be very inspirational for people to serve here, especially for people who have never been to this part of the country.
Click HERE to view photos photos of the Villanova volunteer team.