The flood that occurred here in Binghamton in September was devastating, and now, over a month later, there is still work to be done. Clean up, removal of debris, mold removal, drywall removal, ripping up hardwood floors, and this is just the beginning. There will need to be rebuilding. People are still getting their lives on track, maybe waiting for financial aid, maybe waiting for a sign of hope. There are countless things to talk about in regards to the flood, and I will never be able to fully address all of them.
As a graduate assistant at the Center for Civic Engagement at Binghamton University, I have been maintaining our own flood recovery website, which we hope will help students find ways to get involved in flood recovery efforts. I have been blown away daily by how this community has come together during this difficult time. Every day I am inspired by my coworkers, community members, and fellow students, who have worked together to make an impact and help others.
We have been coordinating student volunteers to work with NOAH (Now Offering Assistance and Hope) through the First Presbyterian Church, an amazing community organization. It is volunteer run, and they do what they do because of their faith and desire to serve others. I am inspired by all they have been doing.
NOAH right now has a team from the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). They are between 18-24, and from all over the country. The NCCC is, in a sense, the domestic Peace Corpse. I met a woman from California, and two men – one from North Carolina and the other from New Hampshire. I spoke at length with Isaac, who had just finished high school and decided to apply for the NCCC in order to serve his country and to give himself a focus. Isaac had learned so many things throughout his service with NCCC. He said he had fought forest fires in Virginia, painted a hospital in DC and is now working on flood relief in Broome County, NY.
I was impressed by his maturity, dedication, and willingness to help. I couldn’t believe he had just finished high school, and I believe he will truly do great things in his life having this incredible hands-on experience and gaining of America’s most intimate needs. He is truly serving his country.
Programs like this need more funding; if a portion of military spending was funneled towards this program and more high school graduates were encouraged to participate, the NCCC would truly “save” this country. NCCC members serve a particular for 10 months, and perform a variety of tasks. As described on their website, non-profits in need can sponsor a service project. These projects “address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation, and urban and rural development. Members construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans, and address countless other local needs.” The possibilities are endless.
To actually see NOAH at work with the Americorps NCCC was truly inspiring. This is the ultimate dedication to one’s country.