Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vermont Clean Up Day Draws Champlain College Volunteers

By Kayla Hedman ’14 / Champlain News
BURLINGTON, VT – Nearly two months after Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont, there is still an estimated 700 homes that need to be rebuilt and a great amount of damage repair and clean up to be done before the winter arrives (Vermont Habitat for Humanity).
This weekend, dozens of Champlain College students will be fanning out to various projects to help clean-up and repair flood damage in Burlington, Moretown and Gaysville, Vt.
Vermont Flood damage - Mansfield Heliflight photo
“Irene” was the first recorded tropical storm to make a direct hit on Vermont since the 1938 New England hurricane. Almost every river and stream in Vermont flooded, sweeping away homes, numerous historical covered bridges, and roads. Statewide, the cost of repairs for road and bridge damage alone exceeded $700 million.
Sarah Waterman, Matt Sisto, and Katy Kent, a 2009 Champlain College alumni, founded an organization called VTResponse the day after the storm. They used social media like Facebook and blogs to bridge the communication gap between volunteers and those in need. This immediately impacted volunteerism throughout New England, but in the weeks since, there remains much clean-up and work to be done across the state.
With tropical storm victims in mind, Vt. Gov. Peter Shumlin announced a statewide clean-up day (similar to the annual spring Green-Up Day) on Saturday, Oct. 22. The hope is that many groups, including college students, would step up to volunteer to help clean up around the state.
A group of students from Champlain College created a forum using Facebook to rally the Champlain Community to help by donating their time to those in need. Through VTResponse, they have organized a trip to the White River Valley Campground in Gaysville, Vt. The flood damage at the campground is not covered by the owner’s insurance and they did not receive any FEMA assistance. They had 100 campsites and many of them were washed away, damaged or covered with mud.
Champlain College’s Residential Life Office is getting involved in the Clean Up Day. A group of 20 Resident Assistants are calling it “RA Madness in Mad River Valley,” and will be working in Moretown, Vt. to help repair a damaged basement. Another group of RAs, led by Skylar Ridabock and Kayla Hedman are taking a dozen students down to St. Paul’s Cathedral on Cherry Street in Burlington.
“No matter where you’re volunteering, whether it is an individual’s home, a family business, or a community building, you are impacting so many lives and contributing to a statewide service day. It is exciting to know that there are others all across the state working hard too,” said Ridabock.
Other Champlain groups volunteering on Saturday include the Environmental Club and the Center for Service and Civic Engagement. All groups are leaving campus at 8 a.m. on Saturday to arrive at their work sites. They are relying on cooperative weather, lots of hot coffee, and warm work clothes to get them through the day of community service.
About Champlain College
Since 1878, Champlain College has provided career-focused education to students from its hilltop campus in Burlington, Vt. Champlain's distinctive educational approach embodies the notion that true learning only occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain offers traditional undergraduate and online undergraduate courses, along with online certificate and degree programs and eight master's degree programs. Champlain offers study abroad programs at its campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain College will be included in the Princeton Review's "best colleges" guidebook, The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and was ranked in the top tier of 2012 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit

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