embers of the Queens College student body — including several student-athletes —donated their time and efforts on Nov. 1 to help those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged parts of the Tri-State area two days prior.
Fitzgerald Gymnasium transformed into an evacuation center and a safe haven for many individuals. What started out as just 50 evacuees at the beginning of the storm grew to 400 inhabiting the Gym by the week’s end. Being brought in by MTA and yellow buses, residents from the Rockaways in Queens heeded warnings to evacuate their homes ahead of and during the massive superstorm. According the NYC Office of Emergency Management, QC was one of 76 shelters that had been set up in the five boroughs and one of 10 campuses used within the CUNY system.
With Sandy forcing the MTA to shut down all public transportation for the majority of the week, CUNY canceled all day and evening classes on all its campuses from Monday through Thursday. With many students staying on campus at The Summit during the unprecedented natural disaster, they took it upon themselves to help city workers take care of the many families and individuals staying at the Gym.
Led by Summit residents Devon Paliseno and Danielle DiMaria, students ventured across the street to the Fitzgerald Gym to offer time, services and possessions to those who needed it most.
“It felt very rewarding, we felt privileged being in the dorms with power, hot water and food while people were across the street suffering,” Paliseno said.
Paliseno and DiMaria were joined by members of the QC baseball and softball teams as they all volunteered from midnight until about 8 a.m. on Nov. 1.
“It was eye-opening and it was a touching experience,” said QC softball player and sophomore Nicole Pirretti.
Baseball player and sophomore John Eyerman said: “It felt really good knowing that even though they’re going through such a tough time, you helped make it a little better.”
In an e-mail sent out to the college, QC President James Muyskens said the school’s administrators were “working on plans to address students’ needs while our gym remains a shelter for displaced residents and portions of our dining hall and One Stop Service Center house a medical special-needs unit (one of three in the entire city). Adjustments will be made for athletic activities and food services in addition to registration for winter and spring semesters.”
The winter/spring 2013 registration schedule was pushed back by one week. Departmental pre-registration will begin Nov. 5, followed by special groups on Nov. 7. According to the school’s website, enrollment appointments will soon be assigned to all other students, who should monitor their CUNYfirst accounts for the new dates and times.
While classes on CUNY campuses resumed on Nov. 2, the shelter in Fitzgerald Gym will still be operating at full speed and students and faculty volunteers will be needed to keep the rescue efforts going.
But the immediate response was a great first step in coming together as a college.
“It’s great to see the QC community coming together for a good cause; athletes and non-athletes making a difference,” Paliseno said.