SigEps Welcome in Victims of Sandy
Bryan Baranyay, Stevens Tech '14
When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, brothers at Stevens Tech put in a total of 787.25 service hours in a five-day period, doing everything from cooking for shelters, cleaning hard hit areas and taking emergency calls. Resident Scholar, Polina Pinkhasova said, "The brothers brought a positive attitude to these shelters when there was none before." The outpouring of brotherly love that these men showed made Pinkhasova, "proud to live under the same roof as these selfless and considerate men." Chapter President, Bryan Baranyay, Stevens Tech '14, shares his chapter's experience.
Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey hard when she arrived, but the brothers of New Jersey Alpha RLC were fortunate. The Stevens Tech Chapter house was on one of four blocks in Hoboken, N.J., to have power, running hot water and basic amenities that everyone suddenly needed. We were just one of a few dots of light in a city of 50,000. Nearly half the city was underwater for several days and Stevens Institute of Technology was closed for a week. The entire New York Metro area was suddenly shutdown and few people had an inkling of what to do next.
The day after the hurricane hit, our brothers realized how blessed we were since our house went un-flooded and still had electricity. We were determined to make a positive impact during such a trying time, especially since our house was suddenly Ground Zero of our campus as well as our neighborhood. Along with our resident scholar, Polina Pinkhasova, we went to Hoboken City Hall to see how we could help. "Once at city hall, the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon took immediate action," Pinkhasova said. "They started organizing themselves so brothers were at the shelter continuously for 24 hours." Brothers were providing simple items that everyone usually takes for granted: a Gatorade jug to supply a shelter with water, lamps so volunteers could see what they were doing at night, cooking utensils for food, board games for children and blankets for neighbors.
As a chapter, we were honored to supply things that would make this horrific experience all the more bearable for others. The most precious of these commodities in the wake of Sandy was electricity. We placed extension cables from our house to the front patio near the sidewalk. We connected three power strips to share what so many greatly needed to charge cell phones, laptops and tablets. We also set up a table and chairs so neighbors could relax and try to take their mind off what was currently happening.
Polina had an especially moving experience while helping out. "One woman brought tears to my eyes as she explained her situation. She arrived at the shelter saying that she had never asked anyone for anything but was in desperate need of food for her three children," Polina said. "Without hesitation my SigEp boys worked with the shelter to package up boxes of food for her. I will forever remember the scene of her graciously accepting food from my boys in order to feed her family."
Besides providing power and items to neighbors, our house also contributed many service hours to the city of Hoboken. Our chapter has logged almost 800 volunteer hours. We have helped cook and prepare food for shelters in Hoboken, volunteered at shelters to help those who lost their homes or never had one, loaded and unloaded EMT and National Guard trucks with medical and household supplies, delivering medication and other items like oxygen to displaced residents, and cleaned houses and businesses in the area.
Some brothers brought their fellow students into our house when their dorms lost power. Others helped plan events with the school in order to take student’s minds off of the devastation around them. Our washers and dryers were constantly running at full capacity with the clothes of others who could no longer wash them.
During this event New Jersey Alpha felt responsible for helping our community. Without question, Sandy challenged Hoboken, but she also tested New Jersey Alpha, and we were determined to respond as a brotherhood to help our fellow students and neighbors. It was an excellent opportunity to put our cardinal principles into action.