Hurricane relief
Sepúlveda, Golden, et al. pose with the
Legacy Center truck. (Jeannie Eddy photo)

Skidmore mounts hurricane-relief mission

November 12, 2012

Skidmore’s Honors Forum and others added a donation drive to a preplanned bus trip, delivering much-needed household items and supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York City.

Honors Forum Director Catherine Golden, professor of English, says the group had previously scheduled a theater and museum day trip for Nov. 11, but “with the hurricane, my first impulse was to cancel. It seemed indulgent for us to visit New York for culture and fun while people are without heat and electricity and basic necessities.” Golden found that it was too late to get ticket or bus refunds, but then she got a call from Idalia Sepúlveda, the academic Web coordinator in Skidmore’s communications office. Sepúlveda had an idea to make the trip far more than an indulgence.

A Brooklyn native, Sepúlveda had been talking with her sister, who lives in hard-hit Staten Island and is active with New York’s Legacy Center, a community development agency that has thrown itself into relief work. She says, “My sister has been driving her neighbors in her car, because their own cars are ruined or gone. And many people lost their homes and belongings. I felt so helpless—what could I do from here in Saratoga?” Then she got her answer. When she learned of the Honors Forum trip, Sepúlveda asked Golden if the bus’s luggage hold could be used to deliver donated supplies.

Golden and students loved the plan, and the bus company agreed. With just a few days before departure, appeals were quickly sent across campus and to area school districts and other groups, a storage space on campus was found, and within hours cleansers, toiletries, food, water, and other goods began to accumulate. Meanwhile Sepúlveda and her sister and in-laws arranged for Legacy Center members to meet the bus in Bryant Park and take its cargo around to residents in need.

Sepúlveda herself soon had “a garage half-filled with stuff to bring to the bus.” By Friday, she wasn’t sure she and the students could fit everything into the bus on Sunday morning. But she had a plan for that too: “I’ll load my minivan and drive down behind the bus.”

Golden says, “The students have been telling me how happy they are to help with this initiative.” She explains, “All Honors Forum students complete a citizenship project, and civic engagement is central to our mission. Many HF students have family who lost power and belongings in the hurricane, so our efforts also touch close to home.”

Inside ViewLoading the SuppliesAt SkidmoreUnloading in NYCSupplies on the sidewalkSupplies on the sidewalk