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Students Spend Spring Break Helping Hurricane Survivors

“There are people who really need our help and I don’t need a vacation right now. I knew traveling to Texas was the right thing to do.”

Those words from Kimberly Aldoy '19 sum up why she and dozens of other University of Hartford students spent their spring break helping survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, which caused catastrophic damage in Texas and Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017. Aldoy, a double major in secondary education in English and psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was one of 33 volunteers who worked in Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas with the University's Center for Community Service. Seven students from Hillyer College helped disaster recovery operations near Ciales, Puerto Rico. Here are some of their reflections on their experiences:

What kind of volunteer work did you do?

Alexa Perrefort“We completely gutted a house and took out a kitchen. So now they can start to rebuild, which is awesome. At another house, we ripped down the drywall so there’s no mold. After we’re done taking everything out, another group will come in and help rebuild the home so it’s livable.”

- Alexa Perrefort '19, Integrated Elementary and Special Education major (Texas)

“We set up a DIVVY water purification system. We pumped 250 gallons of water, purified it all, and put it in containers for the community. We also loaded up trucks full of provisions and unloaded a semi-truck full of water to hand out to the community.”

 -Rachel Drost A'18, Business major (Puerto Rico)

Sara HohenthalWhy did you decide to volunteer over Spring Break?

“I saw all the destruction that happened and I am free and able to come here and I wanted to make a difference. I’m at a point in my life where I am capable of going and helping others so I really wanted to take this opportunity to give up my time and do this.”

 -Sara Hohenthal '21, Computer Science major (Texas)

Eve Betterini“All my life I’ve seen footage of natural disasters on television. Everyone always talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it. I immediately jumped at this opportunity. I didn’t want to just sit and hear about it, I wanted to go do something!”

  -Eve Betterini '21, Health Sciences major (Texas)

How did this trip impact you?

Bryson Owens“It was a really, really great experience. We came together and grew a lot as a team. And just the look on people’s faces after we helped them was amazing. Senior year is a little overwhelming, a little stressful to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. But this trip helped me relax and realize not everything revolves around just one person.”

 -Bryson Owens ’18, Communication major (Texas)

Rachel Dorst“It was the best experience of my life and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. The people of Puerto Rico have been completely devastated by Hurricane Maria. Many are still without power, clean water, and other resources, but what I noticed is, through the devastation around them, they are still smiling and laughing. A lot of the homeowners don't have much, but they still find a way to help out their community. I have met so many incredible, strong, inspiring people on this trip.”

 -Rachel Drost