With the understanding what they and many others went through after Hurricane Sandy nearly five years ago, students at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett Bay Park jumped into action with fundraising, including a bake sale, and a letter writing campaign that offered words of comfort to teenagers in Jewish high schools in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
After seeing the devastation that storm wrought, Helen Spirn, SKA’s head of school, and Rabbi Yosef Zakutinsky, director of Student Programs, understood that this situation called for a larger effort. On Sept. 24, 12 students and two faculty members, Lisa Fogel and Rivky Watman, left for Texas to offer hands-on help.
The SKA team helped people tear out molded sheetrock and throwing out heavy furniture and belongings, both deluged with water. One resident they meet, Margo, lost half her furniture in the first flood she encountered. She had lived in her house for 20 years.
“We really feel like we’re contributing and doing genuine chesed (good deeds), said SKA senior Joyce Mishan. “Instead of just giving money to a cause, we’re on the ground doing the work and seeing the benefits of our chesed.”
The students also met Rebbetzin Rachel Yaghobian of Sephardic Gan/Torat Emes in Houston, who spoke to them about being on the receiving end of chesed (kindness) when one is accustomed to doing the chesed.
The girls noted that they had come full circle from Sandy. They were happy to give the Houston community chizzuk (strength) and show them that things would hopefully return to normal.