Thursday, November 15, 2012

Schools Adopting Schools in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Julie Bergin, resident of Lynbrook, Long Island was selected by Parenting Magazine as the 2012 New York Delegate to the Mom Congress on Education and Learning, which is a group of moms from each US state and Washington DC who work towards creating a guide to empower parents nationwide to become more involved in their children’s education.

In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Julie and her sisters, Tina Horgan and Catherine Foley, along with her niece Kerri Horgan, all from Lynbrook, met to discuss how they could help those affected in their neighboring towns and villages. A donation drive was created where they would pick-up and distribute clothing, food and other essential items. They reached out to friends and neighbors via social media and the response received was overwhelmingly generous.

On their numerous distribution trips to Belle Harbor, Broad Channel and East Rockaway, they met many people whose homes had been destroyed and felt they needed to do more. They gathered shovels, cleaning supplies and gloves and went to work cleaning out basements that had been ruined by water damage.

“It was an honor and privilege to work with the people of these neighborhoods. Their strength and resilience is something to be commended, they may be down, but they are far from out ” - Tina Horgan

Along with Lynbrook moms 
Nicole Aroksaar, Lori Padilla and Erin Contino, Julie arranged a late Halloween gathering at West End Elementary School where children dressed in their Halloween costumes and also brought items to donate. The gathering was a great success, thanks to the generosity of West End familiesthey were able to collect 6 large carloads of donations.

Since before the storm hit, Julie was tracking it and posting updates on Facebook. She continued with her posts throughout the duration of the storm and its aftermath. Notifications of school closings, where/what to donate, where to buy gas and the length of lines, power outages and LIPA updates are all a part of her Facebook Newsfeed. Members of Mom Congress from out of state who had been following her posts reached out and were eager to help asking “what can we do?” We realized that not only had homes been lost and schools damaged, but also, textbooks, school supplies etc. were also gone.

g the help of her niece Kerri, Twitter (@AdoptSchools) and Facebook (Schools Adopting Schools in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy - ) pages were created where out of state schools could essentially ‘adopt’ an affected school.

“We have created two, easy to complete forms, one for the ‘adopter’ and one for the ‘adoptee’. When we receive responses, we match the school based on size and need, so far we’re getting great feedback, but we need to get the word out there that we haven’t forgotten the schools or the children” – Kerri Horgan

“Adopter” Form

“Adoptee” Form 

Tina and Catherine have reached out to the many school districts on Long Island, Staten Island and Coney Island to get contact information and to notify them of this new program.

“So far we have matched the McAllen School District in Texas (Dalinda 
Alcantar, Mom Congress Delegate) with the Long Beach City School District, Long Beach, NY.  Liberty Naud, (California Mom Congress Delegate) has paired with Rhame Avenue Elementary School, East Rockaway, NY. Natalie LaFrance Slack (South Dakota Mom Congress Delegate) is adopting Oceanside School #2, Oceanside, NY.  We have more adoptions in the works, as our forms come in we make the match as soon as possible. 
The sponsor schools will hold donation drives and fulfill the requests of our NY schools. We have a long way to go, but we’re off to a great start and I’m confident we will be successful in our goals." – Catherine Foley

"Please share this information.  With the displacement of students, and power outtages, our only hurdle in this process is tracking down contact information for those in need!" - Julie Bergin