Over break, Shayna Innocenti, a First-Year Bonner Community Scholar, has been volunteering in the Manahawkin and Long Beach areas with various Sandy relief efforts. The following is a description Shayna wrote up detailing some of the work she has been doing as well as the impact the service has had on her over the past several weeks.
On 12/19/2012 through 12/21/2012 I was working with the Stafford Township Recreation Center in Manahawkin. A toy drive was held for Sandy relief and donations of food, water, clothes, toiletries, and Christmas decorations were also handed out at this event. It was my job to help people who came in and made sure that they received everything that they needed in the recovery process. Though this project was short it was an incredible experience. Everybody who came in was so grateful for the supplies that they were receiving, and all of their stories were absolutely heartbreaking. The volunteers I worked with were also very inspirational. The amount of donations that they received was unbelievable! A man even came in at one point and said that he had about 30 buckets filled with cleaning supplies to donate; this man drove all the way from Pennsylvania to donate them in person!
My second volunteer service that I just finished with involved an AmeriCorps group that was stationed within the Stafford Township Recreation Center. I worked closely with this group from 12/22/2012 through12/28/2012. Throughout my time working with these AmeriCorps members I worked on canvasing Long Beach Island as well as the surrounding areas to make sure that all the houses that needed to be gutted were; I also primarily worked on several houses and the work ranged from moving out water logged furniture to gutting a house to debris removal; and I also helped transfer damaged structures like sheds, barns, etc.
The group of AmeriCorps members that I was with was from Minnesota and they shared dozens of disaster relief stories with me—some relating to Sandy and some relating to other disasters in other countries. I absolutely loved working with them!
Unfortunately, we received heavy rains on 12/27/2012 Long Beach Island had flooded, completely flooded. All of the debris from houses and more from the ocean had washed up all over the island. Thousands of trash bags filled with garbage was in the roads, in people’s backyards, everywhere! We spent most of 12/28/2012 cleaning up the debris that was on the major roads and putting them back into piles on the sides of the street.
I know that as Bonner’s some of us have to get “AmeriCorps hours”—me being one of them—but I never actually realized what that meant until I did this work. For a week I wore a vest that had the AmeriCorps logo on it and every time I walked somewhere people would come up to me and ask for help or tell me about a neighbor, friend, or relative that needed help. I could not believe it. The stories that I heard. I am really at a loss for words.
Thank you, Shayna, for your dedication to relief efforts and all of the help that you have provided to those in need following Hurricane Sandy!