September 2, 2014


NEW YORK (BP) -- One of the highlights of the continued Sandy Rebuild effort is the arrival of college students using their spring breaks to serve the people of Staten Island, N.Y., according to at least one volunteer couple.

"Our main goal is that the Gospel goes out to the ones we're serving in Staten Island and the college students here doing the work."
-- Ronda Corn, SBDR volunteer
This year Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, including Ronda and Randy Corn, will welcome nearly 200 students from more than six states over a two-week period to assist in the cleanup and rebuild work on the island.

When the Corns arrived in Staten Island in November 2012 -- just five days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall -- they didn't think they would still be there today.

"Randy and I have been here since the beginning," Ronda Corn said, "and we plan to stay until the end. There's still such a mess here. Homes are gutted and unlivable. People are displaced. Below the surface there is just so much hurt. Time has passed and media attention has faded, but the people here still need so much help."

Serving under local construction team leaders and fellow SBDR volunteers, students will hang sheet rock, tile floors, install doors, put up walls -- anything to help homes become livable once again.

"The students work with a construction team leader and learn a lot about skilled labor," Corn said. "It's hard work but really an awesome experience."

The experience is a stark contrast to the way many college students spend spring break. SBDR built a volunteer village on a three-acre field on Staten Island, complete with shower, kitchen and water units. Students will camp in tents built specifically for Sandy Rebuild workers. With New York closing out one of its roughest winters yet, volunteers face the difficult challenge of braving the elements.

"Weather conditions this season haven't made our work easy, and we've tried to prepare students for the potential wet and cold weather we've seen all season," Corn said. "They're all still excited to serve. For all of us, it's not about the project itself; it's about the people. That's been our motto from day one, and keeping the hearts of the people we're serving in mind has helped tremendously on the difficult days." Read More

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