Touro Distributes $70K to Students and Staff for Hurricane Sandy Relief
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Touro College has distributed more than $70,000 to students and employees in the New York area who were victims of Hurricane Sandy. Both the Hurricane Sandy Scholarship for students and an employee loan program were created after the October super-storm devastated homes and uprooted families throughout Manhattan’s five boroughs, Long Island and New Jersey.
“The leadership of Touro College is cognizant of the hardships that many in our community continue to face in the aftermath of Sandy,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro’s president and CEO. “Our hearts go out to those who have suffered personal tragedies and we hope that these scholarships and loans will provide them with some measure of comfort as they go about the arduous process of rebuilding their lives.”
The scholarship fund was established through donations from members of the Touro community. To date, it has collected $60,000. Of the approximately 60 applicants—from all of Touro’s New York-based programs—33 students have already received checks of $1,000 each, the maximum amount allocated. Applicants had to prove that they met the program’s requirements by providing documentation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that they were eligible for financial assistance, and other materials. Checks were sent directly to the students, who can use the scholarship money for anything they choose.
Many applicants sent moving letters detailing their experiences to Touro’s office of financial aid, which is handling the scholarship fund. Examples include:
—The mother of one student in the Health Sciences department owned a beauty parlor in Howard Beach that was destroyed, along with the family’s home. Not only did the student lose most of her possessions, she also lost her school supplies, including her computer and textbooks.
—A student’s home was destroyed and her father underwent surgery immediately following the storm. As her father is self-employed and is still recovering, he is unable to work to support his family.
—The flooding resulting from the storm caused a student’s car to catch fire, the flames eventually spreading to her parents’ home. The house is unlivable and will have to be completely rebuilt.
Not only were many students affected by Sandy, but several Touro employees were victims, too. To help defray the cost of damage incurred, Touro is giving employees the opportunity to apply for an interest-free loan. A total of $37,500 has already been disbursed to 12 employees who were approved for loans.
Among the victims is a senior administrator at Touro who lost her South Shore home and her automobiles. She and her husband were trapped on the top floor of their house for three days before they were able to evacuate.
“On the night of the storm the electricity went out and I tried to walk downstairs while carrying a flashlight,” she said. “At the bottom of the staircase I stepped into icy water, and I realized that I had both the bay and the ocean in my living room.” Once they were finally able to leave, the administrator stayed on a friend’s boat for three weeks, in a hotel for seven weeks and has lived in a rented apartment ever since.
In addition to the scholarship and loan programs, Touro has offered counseling for students and staff, and its Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center gave free legal advice to community members in the weeks following the storm. The Law Center recently hosted a program that provided assistance to both individuals and small businesses. It included brief presentations from various federal, state and local government agencies and private groups.