October 24, 2006

ROTC Helps Rebuild Homes

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According to a report released last week by the Corporation for National and Community Service, more than 3.3 million college students engaged in volunteer activities in the year 2005, an increase of 20 percent from 2002.

Although the report stated that the lowest rates of student volunteerism among states included New York, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee and Massachusetts, it appears that Cornell students have been increasing their philanthropic efforts recently.

This past weekend, various divisions from the ROTC spent a second day in Binghamton helping to rebuild homes for families who had been devastated by the Susquehanna River flood in June 2006.

“A lot of damage was done to the houses there due to major flooding in the Binghamton area,” said Nate Delaney ’07, brigade commander of the Cornell ROTC units. “The waterline was seven or eight feet above the ground floor, and many families have been displaced and forced to live in trailers.”

Approximately 30 volunteers helped to paint walls, install insulation, cleanup debris, lay floor and engaged in various other construction efforts on Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, according to Delaney.

“Our goals for this effort are three-fold,” said Prof. Brian Page, military science, a lieutenant colonel, in a statement. “We want to help families rebuild, give our ROTC cadets experience volunteering for their communities, and give our cadets a chance to know the community — and to help the community get to know us.”

The recent volunteer report claimed that volunteer rates are higher among students who also work than among those who have no work responsibilities; cadets of ROTC not only have the academic schedules of Cornell students but also the obligations from being a part of ROTC. Delaney admitted that he has been trying to focus more on philanthropic activities this year.

“It’s a little different than what we’ve done in the past,” Delaney said. “We want to do some kind of philanthropic event every year, which is a bit of a change.”

Fortunately, as a result of ROTC’s efforts in Broome County, the volunteers had positive attitudes about the experience.

“Everyone that I talked to was very satisfied that they went. We were helping the families on a personal level, working right alongside the family in rebuilding the home,” Delaney said. “We were just trying to help them out before the winter. Those trailers only offer so much protection.”

Although the ROTC organized the effort, all Cornellians were invited to help. The cadets, students and other volunteers cooperated with the Conklin Presbyterian Flood Relief Volunteer Center in Conklin, N.Y.

“We’re just thrilled to get their help,” said Lorna Kinsman, a volunteer with a group from Conklin Presbyterian Church. “With [the] summer ending, kids have gone back to school and there’s been a decline in volunteers, so this is just wonderful.”

The volunteerism survey also found that female students were more likely to volunteer than males and that 27 percent of respondents worked 15 to 49 hours during 2005 while 24 percent worked from 100 to 499 hours.