CAMDEN — As New Jersey shore towns continue to recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, Rutgers–Camden students are pitching in to help rebuild their communities and beaches.
During spring break, eight Rutgers–Camden students took a two-day trip to Asbury Park to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the city’s boardwalk and historic casino building.
The “Restore the Shore” campaign, sponsored by Rutgers–Camden’s Division of Student Affairs and Office of Civic Engagement, was part of this year’s Alternative Spring Break program, which promotes community service and develops leadership skills among the student participants.
The students joined an effort led by Waves for Water, a local group of activists leading the recovery effort in tandem with the City of Asbury Park.
The Rutgers–Camden contingent assisted in painting new lifeguard stands and repainting the trash and recycling barrels to prepare the community for the beach season, as well as removing storm debris and creating the foundation for new and artificial dunes.
“All of the work that was completed in the short time that the Rutgers–Camden crew was in Asbury Park was necessary, but grueling work that is a crucial step in the recovery of Asbury Park,” says Angelica Shaw, a sophomore psychology major from Marlton and Cherokee High School graduate. “New Jersey is strong. It will bounce back with the help of students, staff, civic-minded people, and the communities that people live in that want the state and the shores to rise again.”
Students at Rutgers Law–Camden are also passionate about helping Garden State citizens recover from this fall’s devastating hurricane. Students who volunteer through the Legal Services of New Jersey plan to assist in a variety of ways, including intake, legal research on insurance issues, and consumer issues arising out of repairs.
“We’re very proud that we will be contributing in some way,” says Eve Biskind Klothen, assistant dean of the Rutgers Law School Pro Bono Program, who also points out that law students have been helping where they can since Sandy struck, from volunteering over the winter break to answering calls through the New Jersey Bar Association hotline. “Now our students are researching denials of insurance applications and the myriad of issues arising from the repair of homes that were damaged,” she adds.
Rutgers Law students have long been helping victims of natural disasters recover no matter how long that recovery takes. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2006, Rutgers Law students spent their spring breaks working toward the rebuilding of the city’s criminal justice program.
Some seven years later, Rutgers Law–Camden is still sending help to the Big Easy. This month, 25 students returned to the region contributing to the recovery efforts their peers began nearly a decade ago.
In addition to shore recovery efforts, students participating in Rutgers–Camden’s Alternative Spring Break program extended a hand to the Camden community by working alongside the Center for Environmental Transformation in the Waterfront South neighborhood of Camden.
The students helped the organization’s farmer prepare for the growing season by prepping her nursery for local plants. The organization’s vision is to educate people on living in a more environmentally responsible way and to create sustainable economic and environmental solutions despite challenges related to pollution and industrialization.
“The Restore the Shore and Camden Alternative Spring Break programs combined an exploration of issues related to recovery from two perspectives: natural disaster and urban revitalization through community empowerment,” says Thomas Dahan, a program coordinator in Rutgers–Camden’s Office of Civic Engagement.
In addition to engaging in local civic engagement programs, Alternative Spring Break took a small group of Rutgers–Camden students to Memphis, Tenn. to restore urban areas, create eco-friendly environments, and work with school children to provide them with unique social and education experiences.
“It’s a great chance to participate in Rutgers–Camden’s larger mission of civic engagement, not only on a local level, but on a national level, too,” says Chris Countryman, a program coordinator for the trip. “The students have the opportunity to work together to make a difference in another community.”
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Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse