Hurricane Sandy has rocked the northeastern United States and left in its wake a trail of damage and destruction topped only by Katrina. In the days after the storm, as immediate stories of loss and heartbreak began to slow, another type of story began to emerge; the story of hope. Tens of thousands of volunteers arrived in New York, New Jersey and other affected states. Donations rolled in. A charity concert was held.
Joining the response effort were countless Seton Hall University alumni, students and friends living out the call of servant leadership by organizing response efforts and caring for those in need.
Here are a few of the alumni who responded, and how they were able to help:
- A note from Chris Cromwell ’89: “My wife Jean and I (both class of ’89) spent time in Keansburg volunteering at a shelter setup at Keansburg Middle School. We helped to sort and distribute donated clothing and listen to the stories of the victims who came to the shelter (many just wanted someone to talk with and were extremely thankful). A friend of ours who coached our sons in lacrosse has a relationship with many community members there and asked us to help. We had never been to Keansburg before. I wore a Seton Hall sweatshirt during my time at the shelter and had a few people ask me if I thought the team was going to do well this year! A couple of people noticed my final four ring and reminisced about the great run in ’89. It was a nice distraction. As both Jean and I work in schools (Princeton Day School and Francis A. Desmares Elementary in the Flemington-Raritan School District respectively) which have families that were tragically effected by the storm, we have also been involved on a daily basis with storm relief. Both schools are organizing donations to assist those effected by storm.
- Lauren Ludwig ‘09, a teacher at Memorial School in Union Beach, NJ, has assisted with clean up efforts and has worked to find people to send in needed donations.
- A volunteer firefighter in Whippany, NJ, Derrick Shearer ’01 has assisted neighbors in a variety of ways around the clock since the storm hit.
- Nick Sena, M.P.A. ’11, assistant director of alumni relations, joined his fiancé Kristen Rasinya in making meals to deliver to those affected. They have also collected supplies for shelters throughout Monmouth County, NJ.
- Alumni Board President James Orsini ’85 and his family brought sandwiches and coffee to households of workers in the devastated Howard Beach area of Queens, N.Y. His family also helped clear debris from a neighborhood flooded with more than seven feet of water.
- David Gibson, M.A.E. ‘81/E.D.D. ’92, has taken care of all on their street without power. He and his wife Juday have cooked, done laundry, housed families, gone to southern New Jersey for gas and gas cans, loaned generators and more. They have done whatever they could for those in need.
- At the time of this story’s publication, Julia Hurley ’09 was headed from Washington, D.C. to New York to volunteer for various relief efforts. She was also bringing with her five boxes of clothing to donate. Much of the clothing to be donated belonged to Julia’s father, who passed away in early September. He grew up at the Jersey shore.
- Christina Tenore ’11 cooked and delivered meals to Highland, NJ.
- A member of the North Arlington Community Emergency Response Team, Joe Pastino ’12 has assisted in numerous ways including debris removal, clearing streets, traffic duty, identifying damage and more.
- Lilian Mondaro ’01 and her husband Vincent ’99 opened their home to friends who had no power or heat.
- Kristen Marmion ’06 is a resident of Toms River, NJ, an area hit hard by the storm. A note from Kristin reads, “we did the most urgent things for a few days, like borrowing a generator and pumping out the water under the house, and then went to a neighbor’s to help. She lost everything and had a small crew of friends there to get everything out and start cutting the walls one foot above the water line. I wanted so badly to do more, but I am a teacher and my school in Deal, NJ, has a generator, so back to the daily grind I went. The kids couldn’t have been more grateful for some normalcy in their lives, especially those that lost everything and those that still did not have power almost 2 weeks later.”
- Erica Scavone ’09, Tiffany Gaidus ’12 and Megan Gilhooley ’96 assisted with Delta Phi Epsilon’s collection drive.
- Lauren Skowronski ’98 has started a relief effort in the Toms River, NJ area to help affected families.
- Brianna Plaza ’09/M.A. ’10 helped out in Jersey City packing and distributing bags of food and necessities.
Dennis Raffa ’02 sends this note: “My wife Rebecca (Statz) Raffa class ’03 and I live “down the shore” Howell, NJ. We have been volunteering cleaning people’s homes in the Belmar community since the storm hit. My family has a home in Seaside Park that has been in our family for over 40 years. My father Dennis Raffa Sr (a Seton Hall employee, Physical Plant) and I were able to get to island and winterize our family’s summer home. We were very lucky, the house was not damaged. We were very fortunate compared to many over families who have a permanent residence on the island that was destroyed. It was an awaking for me. Time to give back to the communities that gave my family and me generations of memories.”
These are but a few of so many stories of Pirates helping others. If you, or another graduate of Seton Hall, have served the victims of Sandy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.