Next week, NJIT will provide you with the opportunity to exhibit greatness. The 2014 Alternative Spring Break is your chance to apply your talents to “things that need to be done,” namely, to help communities still burdened by the lingering impacts of Hurricane Sandy rebuild New Jersey strong.
You can forgive Frederick Douglass for singling out men as a product of the times. Designer Daniel Burnham continued the thought. “Make no little plans. They lack the magic to stir men’s blood….”
If Douglass or Burnham came to NJIT today, they’d certainly recognize the value of women, as well as the power that students, faculty, staff and alumni can bring to our communities. And I know that they’d marvel at the energy and enthusiasm NJIT students have shown in the past.
Just a year ago, over 600 people registered through the NJIT Alternative Spring Break website to participate in beach sweeps, lake cleanups, dune replenishments, commercial and residential rebuilding, and other efforts to help the towns hardest hit by Sandy recover. If you were a part of that monumental effort, you remember not only the cold, snowy weather, but also the fun you had and the great times you shared with old and new friends.
Over 3500 hours of service were given by NJIT during that week alone. We covered the eastern NJ coastline; from Newark to Beach Haven. We ensured that many New Jersey residents and visitors had a more enjoyable summer. NJIT’s Track and Field Team helped IHS Development restore their interior space. Fraternities and Sororities joined with other student groups to clean up the parking area of Labrador Café in Normandy Beach. Architects and engineers joined forces to rebuild the Asbury Park dunes. Many hearty souls helped clean up Lake Silver in Point Pleasant Beach, while others worked at Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven to paint and restore their facilities.
We created or improved key shore infrastructure: painting lifeguard stands and trash receptacles, planting dune grass and rebuilding fences, and generally cleaning up wayward sand and debris left in the wake of that terrible storm. This was truly the application of powers to do things that needed to be done.
However, if you ask anyone who participated, you’ll hear stories of triumph and see smiles that disregarded the hard work and poor weather conditions, because it was a memorable moment. During breaks, students, faculty, staff and alumni shared stories, and a few even played pool. Boxed lunches were the norm, but there were also times when generous donors presented a spread of food that was greatly appreciated! In each community, we learned about the place as well as the organization that served as our host. We carry those memories with us, as do those we helped. NJIT did right by doing good.
I ask you to join us this year as NJIT builds on this success with ASB 2014. We will again work with amazing organizations from Bergen to Atlantic counties, and undertake efforts to recover, rebuild and restore New Jersey in a more resilient manner.
A number of outstanding organizations will participate in ASB 2014. For example, Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County is rebuilding homes block-by-block in Little Ferry through their “Repair, Rebuild, Restore” Sandy Restoration Program. In Atlantic County, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey has created REVIVE, a consortium of community organizations committed to helping residents who suffered damage from Sandy. A Future With Hope, Inc. has Sandy rebuild projects in Atlantic City requiring all levels of skills and construction knowledge. Volunteers have the option of lodging in the area if they stay the week.
The Essex Regional Health Commission needs volunteers to survey the residents of Essex County to find unmet needs of those impacted by Sandy. Jersey Cares has a number of events scheduled, including cleanups and beach restorations. Future City Inc. wants students who will conduct research in “Learning to Live With Water” and other related climate adaptation themes. The Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group wants volunteers to organize and paint their housing center as well as move the furniture of Sandy-affected residents to various locations. IHS and Impact Oasis again requested our volunteer’s services.
Please go to our website: http://www.njit.edu/campuslife/hurricane-sandy/nj-strong.php to find out more, and register to create an account on NJIT My Passport. Check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NJITSandyRelief.
Chose one day or multiple days – you can sign up for transportation, too – and select the project that meets your timeframe and talents. You decide where you want to go and what you’d like to do. You will gain insights from local officials and experts, as well as learn more about yourself and your considerable abilities.
Lastly, come to a Kick-Off event on March 14th from 11:30am to 1pm at the Campus Center Ballroom A to learn more and get your t-shirt. Most importantly, spread the word, and join us for ASB 2014: (Re)build New Jersey – work in progress!
By Tom Dallessio
Director, Center for Resilient Design