SUNY Oswego volunteers continue to help with the ongoing NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative, the latest deployment bringing more students and alumni to the island on July 29.

Representing Oswego in the deployment starting July 29 are a father-and-daughter alumni duo in Howard and Olivia Botting, as well as Student Involvement Coordinator Maggie Rivera and Oswego students and/or recent graduates Brooke Ebersold, Rananjaya Gamage, Kimberly Smith and current Student Association President Eusebio Omar van Reenen. They are working with the All Hands and Hearts disaster response charity.

Olivia Botting, a May 2018 geology graduate, is leading a current #LakerTakeoverPR on the the @sunyoswego Instagram account.

"It was a hot day in Toa Baja, but it didn't stop us from working hard!" Botting said in a July 31 post. "We continued with demolition, scrapping and power washing the roof, and removing cement from the interior and exterior of multiple homes. We also learned more about All Hands and Hearts' mission and goals. They follow the four R's: Response, Recovery, Resilience, and Renewal. We are focusing on Recovery!"

An earlier deployment featured 15 SUNY Oswego students, as the college was designated a lead campus by SUNY in this effort.

Continued support

Previously, approximately 100 SUNY and CUNY students and nearly 20 skilled labor volunteers deployed to Puerto Rico on June 17, where they repaired 30 houses for residents in their two-week stay. This initial deployment of volunteers embedded with the non-profit rebuilding organizations All Hands and Hearts, Heart 9/11 as well as NECHAMA, to work on cleaning, restoring and rebuilding homes. Additional groups from SUNY and CUNY will travel to take part in this effort throughout the summer. UNICEF USA has committed $500,000 to support this effort. 

Joanne O’Toole, associate chair of curriculum and instruction in Oswego’s School of Education, served as team leader for the July 17 group of 29 students that spent two weeks in late June on the island devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. SUNY Oswego has been designated a lead campus in an effort that spans many SUNY and CUNY schools.

Oswego representatives on that journey included Diana Aguero, Jonathan Arcese, Alesha Barrett, Nicholas Carbone, Matthew Crumrine, Joseph DeVona, William Alonzo Garcia, Roger Greenidge Jr., Tatyanna Hiciano, Naomi Rodriguez Jose, Victoria Kammer, Ali Khan, James Tighe, Arisleydis Tavares and Shane Weir. Barrett blogged about the "humbling experience" of helping in this massive effort.

Led by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative launched on April 29.  According to a June 10 SUNY press release, “During the first phase, the Governor deployed a Tactical Assessment Team of state experts and labor, non-profit, philanthropic, and academic partners to evaluate reconstruction needs and to develop a comprehensive rebuilding roadmap for communities in need. The Assessment Team's findings are guiding the strategic deployment of approximately 500 SUNY and CUNY students, as well as skilled workers from the building and construction trades, throughout the summer.”

Worker deals with large amount of scrap wood

Volunteers working on a roof in Puerto Rico