Service in the face of Sandy…Virgina Ashley
“She roared, she soared, from Atlantic shore.
All the way to Manhattan’s core.
We sketch, we plan, we draw, we could not escape her claw.”
This title is not about a woman, girl, daughter, mother or sister. This is a quote about Hurricane Sandy. This little lady did some serious damage to the jersey shore. I myself am not form Atlantic City and was not affected by her path of destruction, but host site, Richard Stockton College will have the aftermaths of this devastation for a long time. I live about 20 minutes away and before I started working as a VISTA, I worked at a casino. There have been plenty of storm scares and many talks about nor’easter storms but nothing like Sandy. Sandy is in a league of her own. It’s been almost 2 months later and she still has the Jersey shore in shambles.
We all know that us VIBRANT VISTAS have three projects to work on; one of my three is the Students Leader of Campus Kitchen at Atlantic City. Campus Kitchen…what’s that? Well since you asked (lol), Campus Kitchen is a national leader in community service for students and is the future of hunger relief. This organization focuses on empowering the next generation of leaders to implement innovative models for combating hunger, developing food systems, and helping communities help themselves. Student volunteers develop partnerships, plan menus, run cooking shifts, organize drivers, garden, clean?, and teach nutrition education to children and families. Student volunteers also keep track of all of the paperwork (so we know everything’s being done safely), organize fundraisers, develop curriculum, and recruit new students to get involved. Campus Kitchen partners with high schools, colleges, and universities to share on-campus kitchen space, recover food from cafeterias, and engage students as volunteers who prepare and deliver meals to the community. The Campus Kitchen at Atlantic City has six partners: Atlantic City High School and Sodexo Foods, who donates our cooking supplies and kitchen space. The Atlantic Cape Culinary Academy, who provide student volunteers and chefs, The Richard Stockton College, who has student volunteers that handle both cooking and delivery, The Community Food Bank of Southern New Jersey who donate fresh produce, and lastly, the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, who provide transportation for the delivery of our 120 weekly meals. We prepare the food on Monday’s at Atlantic City High School and deliver the meals on Tuesday’s to motels, the Boys and Girls Club, and individual families of Atlantic City. However, when Hurricane Sandy hit it was just complete chaos! The main issue we had was finding our clients we regularly deliver to every Tuesday. Since the motels and houses that they resided in where pretty much washed away we did not know where to locate them.
After making a few calls, the delivery shift volunteers were finally able to locate some of our families at the Atlantic City Convention Center. After dropping off meals at the Atlantic City Convention Center, the delivery shift volunteers was notified of a husband and wife that needed a meal at a nearby hotel. When they delivery shift arrived at the hotel and located the couple, other people started to poor out of their rooms and ask if there were any more meals. Come to find out some even said that they hadn’t ate in two days. The people who lived in the motels were thrilled to see the delivery shift and the delivery shift volunteers were even more delighted to help.
This is just one of my numerous experiences that I share with you. Helping people in any kind of way, whether it be something as a simple hug to let them know you care or a meal. These little experiences are what keep me going, working hard, and staying dedicated to my role as an AmeriCorps VISTA.
By: Virginia Ashley