springbreakIn the past, Wagner’s Alternative Spring Break program has sent student groups to faraway locations such as Haiti, West Virginia, and Toronto to do volunteer work.

This year, students had that experience right here on Staten Island. And it wasn’t only Wagner spending spring break here; the College hosted 78 students and staff from six colleges — four from New York and two from the Midwest — to help with Hurricane Sandy relief projects.

Most of the colleges just used Wagner’s dorms for a home base while volunteering on the island. But Wagner developed a partnership with Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, located in Troy, New York, to create an Alternative Spring Break experience capitalizing on the insights and inclinations of engineering and liberal arts students.

Besides helping homeowners renovate their flooded homes, the students met with community activists and conducted interviews with children affected by the storm.

For Chaz Taylor ’15 (seen above), a business marketing major from Princeton, New Jersey, getting to know the RPI students was especially enriching, because they brought a different perspective to the project. Kellie Griffith ’14, an education major, treasured the opportunity to work with children and record their stories of surviving the hurricane.

All of the Wagner students were struck by the amount of upheaval that still exists on Staten Island’s eastern shore.

“I realized there’s a lot more work that needs to be done,” said Molly Delbridge ’14, an anthropology and Spanish double major. “When we came back to campus after [evacuating for] the storm, it didn’t seem like we were living in the same world. But then we returned to normalcy. It was good to be immersed in that feeling again that it was not the same world. Thousands, hundreds of thousands lost their homes.”

Wagner Cares Helps Hurricane Victims

Wagner Cares got started in November 2012, days after Hurricane Sandy, by Student Government officers Greg Balaes '13 and Kate Schaefer '15 to mobilize the Wagner response to the disaster. During the spring semester of 2013, Wagner Cares gave $10,000 in awards to help 14 Sandy-affected Wagner students. This summer, two Wagner Cares interns are continuing the relief work.