A City Education: A Post-Sandy Day of Service in Staten Island A City Education: A Post-Sandy Day of Service in Staten Island

A City Education: A Post-Sandy Day of Service in Staten Island

by Robin Krosinsky

November 21, 2012

In our A City Education series, City Year corps members share their experiences working as tutors and mentors in schools in hopes of closing the opportunity gap and ending the dropout crisis.

As my team walked through the neighborhood, residents came out of their homes to thank us for being there, to bless us, and to offer us water or their restroom. Their gratitude was immense, and it became clear how much help this community needed. When we reached the house we were assigned, the owner opened the door and gasped when she saw how many of us were there to help her. In our matching red jackets and Timberland boots, we must have looked like quite the cavalry.   

Our job was to gut the basement apartment, which had been flooded with over four feet of water. We started with the larger furniture—we carried out a couch, an armoire, cabinets, a dresser, a futon, the fridge, the oven and every piece of electronic equipment. Then we ripped up the carpeting, and cleaned what was left of the floor with bleach to help with the smell.  Everything was waterlogged, making the load heavier and harder to carry. But with 11 of us working as a team, we successfully emptied the apartment in a little over two hours.

I stopped working every once in a while to watch my teammates in action. Everyone's dedication to service was empowering us to lift the heaviest objects, to get the job done in the time we had. When the sun set and the community fell dark—power had not yet been restored—we said goodbye to the residents and wished them luck.

My team was covered in dirty water, sore from head to toe, and tired from the challenging labor, but there was a positive energy radiating from us. We felt the accomplishment of a hard day's work, and the gratification of knowing we worked to help others. While we were worried about waking up at 6:00 A.M. for school the next morning, we were proud of the work we did that day.

The cleanup from Sandy is likely to take months, so I expect that we will have the chance to help out again. Along with the tutoring and mentoring we do in schools, we’re excited for the work we will continue to do for the communities of New York City. This is why we serve.

Want to help with the recovery? Spread the word about Sandy Friday, a campaign that's asking local businesses to pledge up to 10 percent of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday profits to relief in the most hard-hit areas of Coney Island, the Rockaways, Red Hook, and Staten Island.

Photos courtesy of Robin Krosinsky

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A City Education: A Post-Sandy Day of Service in Staten Island