With Houston continuing to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Alfred State recently fielded a team of volunteers to help provide the city with some much-needed disaster relief.
Altogether, 12 Alfred State students, two retired faculty members, one current faculty member, and a community volunteer made the trip to Texas last month to partner with disaster relief organization All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response in making a difference in the community.
For five days, the group focused on debris removal, mucking and gutting, and sanitation work inside buildings, specifically the removal of mud and other semi-solid material from homes, removal of construction materials and protruding nails, eradicating abnormal mold and mildew growth, and a final and thorough cleaning of any remaining dried or wet remnants from the structure.
According to Jonathan Hilsher, director of Alfred State’s Center for Civic Engagement, this was the 20th team that the college has fielded with All Hands and Hearts in supporting disaster relief efforts throughout the nation since the two formed a partnership in 2005.
The team, Hilsher said, included a diverse group of hard-working, community-minded students and a strong leadership team, including retired Alfred State faculty Steven Jakobi and John Buckwalter; Jessica Lippa, an assistant professor in the Alfred State Nursing Department; and Jessica’s husband, Geoffrey Lippa, who is a visiting professor in biology at Alfred University.
Students who attended the trip include Carla Badio (nursing, Snellville, GA), Lydia Barber (forensic science technology, Ionia), Tiffany Carpio (interdisciplinary studies, Astoria), Cade Casey (heavy equipment operations, Plattsburgh), Reno Cheshire (nursing, Port Jervis), Sarah Farnum (nursing, North Chili), Esthefany Gordillo (financial planning, Woodhaven), Liam Hunt (architectural technology, Fairport), Steven Lock (mechanical engineering technology, Silver Creek), Rachel Marsh (business administration, De Ruyter), Joseph Raziano (heavy equipment operations, Oakfield), and Tracey Ziewers (nursing, Le Roy).
“This group exemplified the spirit of the season by generously investing their time, effort, and resources to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” Hilsher said. “They are just the latest example of the strong Alfred State tradition of pitching in to help in times of disaster and need.”
Jessica Lippa described the journey as “incredible.”
“There was overwhelming love and hope within the people who had lost their homes,” she said. “The volunteers truly cared for each other and were a tenacious army of courage. In a season of giving, it was incredible to feel the love for one another, and at the core of human nature, that is all that is necessary.”
She added, “In the end, we completed small projects, but All Hands and Hearts as a whole is working toward bringing hope to those who were devastated by the hurricane. In fact one homeowner was overcome with gratitude and stated that the volunteers are ‘angels without wings.’”