Dozens of SUNY students, including 15 from SUNY Oswego and a faculty member serving as a team leader, recently completed two weeks of work in Puerto Rico under the NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative.

Joanne O’Toole, associate chair of curriculum and instruction in Oswego’s School of Education, served as team leader for a group of 29 students that departed June 17 to 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.

Current SUNY Oswego students and May 2018 graduates involved in the “Stand with Puerto Rico” effort include 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. They worked with NECHAMA, the Jewish non-profit agency for national disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Arcese provided coverage of their activities through a #LakerTakeover of the @sunyoswego Instagram account, while Barrett has blogged about the team's first assignment.

In all, 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. 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. 

Participating students will receive three summer credits and a $500 stipend. In addition, housing, meals and arrangements are paid for by SUNY, as well as free airfare from a New York City-area airport.

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.”