LIU Post Students Lend Helping Hands in Storm’s Wake
Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Post, Long Island University
Brookville, N.Y. -- When a convoy of emergency food and household supplies arrived in Long Beach, N.Y. two days after Hurricane Sandy, clinical psychology students from LIU Post arrived as well, offering emotional care to people whose homes had been damaged or destroyed.
Three first-year students and one second-year student from the doctoral program joined Thomas Demaria, Ph.D., a professor and director of LIU Post’s public mental health clinic, in reaching out to New Yorkers whose lives were uprooted by the storm.
“A lot of people have lost everything, and appreciate the fact that the community cares about them,” Dr. Demaria said. “The simple act of asking, ‘How are you doing, how are you feeling, what’s going on’ – people were thanking us profusely for caring and being there and letting them know they’re not forgotten.”
LIU Post students, faculty and staff have been helping any way they can since Sandy struck the region on Oct. 29.
The Pratt Recreation Center is a designated Red Cross shelter, but officials from the Red Cross, LIU and National Grid decided shortly before the storm the space would better serve the public as a staging area for power line repair crews from other states.
LIU Post contributed to the storm recovery effort by providing lodging for more than 300 repair crew members on cots in the gym. One Illinois lineman's father wrote to say his son “really appreciates the kindness LIU has provided to him and his colleagues.”
Once back on campus after power had been restored, students rushed to help. Donated goods were being collected at the campus Interfaith Chapel. Volunteer activities were organized for the weekend of Nov. 10-11, and planning meetings were scheduled on campus Nov. 12 and Nov. 14 to organize further efforts.
Black Students United planned a full day of efforts to help those devastated by the storm on Friday, Nov. 19.
In Glen Cove, students Pauline Bergman, Rajesh Rashford, David Armas and Dawn Zampell helped Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi and the Red Cross care for city residents at a warming shelter.
WCWP 88.1 FM, the LIU Post campus radio station, stayed on the air on generator power continuously throughout the storm, providing news and music to the campus community and northern Nassau County.
LIU Post staff who serve as trained volunteers in the Campus-based Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) have assisted at Nassau County's Office of Emergency Management and in shelters for people and pets.
Dr. Demaria estimated 700 to 1,000 people sought food and cleaning supplies from Convoy of Hope, one of the charitable organizations responding to the disaster. “We were able to give a lot of people hope,” he said.
The Clinical Psychology Doctoral program's Trauma Team LIU, a volunteer group comprised mainly of students, responds in the aftermath of natural disasters, major crimes and other traumatic events.
“It was quite powerful for the students to see that level of despair,” Demaria said. “It was a life-changing experience for many of them.” The group is accompanying food distribution efforts because that’s the best way to connect with large numbers of affected people.
“You go where the people are at, and right now the necessities are food, cleaners, bleach, water, things like that,” Demaria said.
Trauma Team LIU attended the launch on Saturday, Nov. 10 of the NYC Parents Academy, an initiative of the New York City Department of Education to help families be more fully engaged in their children’s education, at LIU Brooklyn.
LIU has been awarded the contract to administer the Parents Academy, and faculty from LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn have written its training materials and curriculum. Demaria and Trauma Team LIU were on hand for the launch of the program to help families who have been impacted by the storm.
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