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This is Joseph Foster, one of the IDMH's Disaster Studies students who recently returned back from Coastal Bend, Texas. Joseph, along with a number of other SUNY students, were working alongside All Hands and Hearts to provide disaster relief to communities which still require assistance after Hurricane Harvey. Here is what Joseph had to say about his experience:
"I had an amazing experience in Coastal Bend, Texas, working with All Hands and Hearts. I learned; I grew; I made connections. I learned a lot of important life skills lacking in today’s general education. I learned about the layers of a house and, essentially, how to build and repair them. I now know how to care for mold, use a saw, and so many other neat things. Did you know that you should never try to clean mold with bleach? Use white distilled vinegar!
The organization is pretty fantastic. It is one of the few non-profit organizations that use their money extremely ethically. The staff there make like $8 an hour; even the program director makes a low amount. It is very centered around helping the community and not themselves, at least financially. In regards to mental and physical health, they are all there for each other. It is a very unique and healthy they have going within the base. It taught me the value of true teamwork and how my mood and actions influence others and vice versa.
Not only did I learn these amazing life skills, but I also learned more about myself. I was going through a lot before leaving for this trip and this was a total reset for my mental and physical health. I feel so much better coming back from this trip, and now know how to manage my health better. It was valuable.
I met a lot of amazing people along the way. I have already met up with a few of them since returning a week ago. It was really nice meeting people that have similar interests and went through such a dense experience with me.
I am so happy to have had the opportunity to do this trip. I would not have been able to pursue this opportunity without the Brigandi family and their generosity, as well as the hard work from the Institute for Disaster Mental Health. I will take this experience with me as I enter a Masters of Social Work program and beyond, and for both for the professional and personal growth I received. Thank you."
With much appreciation,
IDMH's Director, Amy Nitza (pictured right standing), with the other SUNY students who travelled to Coastal Bend, Texas to assist All Hands and Hearts in repairing homes which still require repair after Hurricane Harvey hit the region in 2017.