Friday, Aug 22, 2014 05:35 pm est

Volunteers help Sandy victims on Day of Action

Posted on November 19, 2012 | by Nicole Brown

While life after Sandy is back to normal for the NYU community and much of lower Manhattan, hundreds of people are still without basic necessities.

“It’s been very difficult,” said Alen Schlesinger, 62, a resident on 142nd Street in Rockaway, Queens, as he stood in his den, which was cluttered with boxes of his family’s possessions. Schlesinger’s home is among many in the Rockaways that has been without electricity and heat for three weeks.

To assist Schlesinger and hundreds of other families in similar situations, the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative organized a Day of Action on Sunday. According to a press release from Chelsea Clinton, CGI’s goal was to acquire 1,000 volunteers to make a difference in areas that continue to suffer from the effects of Sandy.

NYU provided about 70 volunteers and also served as a meeting place for several hundreds of volunteers to get organized. About 15 buses transported the volunteers from outside Bobst Library to the Rockaways. They participated in a number of different projects, including park cleanups, distributions of coats and other materials, serving meals and canvassing the neighborhood to assess the situation and to provide necessary information to residents.

“CGI reached out to organizations and colleges [and] universities from throughout the region to collaborate with them on this initiative,” said Diana Lugo-Martinez, program administrator of NYU’s Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service, in an email.  “They called our office and asked if we wanted to help, and we said absolutely.”

Long Island resident Liz Lattanzio, 42, said she is not exactly sure about the situation back home.

“But these people need help, so I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Lattanzio said.

CAS sophomore Jeremy Lakin said he felt a need to help with relief efforts after he was affected by the hurricane in many ways. Not only did he have to evacuate from his residence hall during Sandy, many of his family members and friends also went through rough times during and after the storm.

“My home in Pennsylvania was hit. My friends and family in [New Jersey] were all hit,” Lakin said. “I have a friend who actually lost someone in the hurricane, so I wanted to help out with the relief efforts.”

Volunteers at the Day of Action even included tourists.

Hasan Aydin, 22, who is from the Netherlands and had been in New York for about a week, said he wanted to do what he could to help after his friend told him about the event.

“I wanted to do good things for New York,” Aydin said. “It looks like a really big mess out there.”

Once the volunteers arrived in Queens, they witnessed the devastation that could not be seen in Manhattan.

Rozelyn Chok, 23, a Juilliard student, said she was shocked by the difference between the situation in Manhattan and in Queens.

“We saw an entire house just gone, like tipped over,” Chok said.

Destroyed houses, filthy streets, sidewalks covered in sand and huge piles of garbage and ruined possessions along the sidewalks were some of the sights in the Rockaways. On nearly every block, groups of volunteers from numerous organizations were helping in any way they could.

“The volunteers have been terrific,” said Rockaways resident Tim Tully, 54. “All the different groups, the Army, everybody’s coming around and they’re wonderful. They really are.”

Volunteers from Sunday’s Day of Action said they hope that their efforts made at least a small difference in the lives of the Queens’ residents.

“For a lot of the people we talked to, I think it was just helpful for them to know that people know they exist and know they need help,” Chok said.

More volunteer opportunities can be found through NYU Service’s Hurricane Sandy Relief page on the NYU website.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 19 print edition. Nicole Brown is city/state deputy editor. Email her at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.