Rider student helps restore the shore

Joe Marchiafava helps put a hurricane-decimated house back together again in Lavallette, N.J.

By Tara DeLorenzo

Rather than spending the week relaxing and catching up with friends, Joe Marchiafava, a sophomore global supply chain management major, worked with mtvU and United Way for Spring Fix ’13 to help rebuild homes and buildings that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Out of more than 3,000 applicants, Marchiafava was one of 50 chosen to participate in Spring Fix ’13, an event that took place from March 17-23 and sent college students from around the country to different locations struck by Sandy. According to mtvu.com, more than 40,000 buildings were damaged in Ocean County, N.J. alone.

“For us to go down there, to do the work for free and help the people out, the locals were so grateful,” Marchiafava said. “It was priceless.”

In order to be chosen, Marchiafava had to complete an internship-like application. He sent in his résumé as well as a few paragraphs about his school, why he was applying and the effect Sandy had on him. He also submitted a video to explain why he should be chosen and how he would be beneficial to the project.

Immediately following Sandy’s rampage up the East Coast, Marchiafava helped fix his family’s beach house in south Seaside Park, N.J., which was “livable,” unlike the countless other homes that were ripped down to their foundations after the storm. As someone who had seen the damage firsthand, Marchiafava felt the need to help give back and rebuild.

Sophomore accounting major Mike Origoni felt Marchiafava’s actions helped relieve some of the Sandy-related stress among those who live and work on the coastline.

“Joe’s opportunity to help Sandy victims was an extraordinary one,” he said. “He had a fantastic experience, and the work he did with the other students will definitely help the towns and citizens affected.”

The volunteers were split into groups of 10 and sent to locations including Staten Island and Rockaway Beach in New York, and Union Beach and Lavallette in New Jersey.

Even after seeing the damage to his beach house, Marchiafava was horrified by the devastation.

“To see the roller coaster in the ocean was horrible,” he said. “There were some houses where you could see the concrete and bricks, but there was no house. It was pretty scary.”

His sister, senior advertising major Angelina Marchiafava, was just as shocked by the destruction when she and her brother went to visit after the storm.

“On our block alone, homes were washed into the bay and boats were smashed into people’s homes,” she said. “My brother and I both knew as we drove around Seaside, N.J., that our summers would never be the same.”

Marchiafava’s group echoed this reaction, falling silent as they crossed the bridge leading to the shore only to see houses in piles.

Once the group arrived in Lavallette, it was sent to help an elderly couple who had been taken advantage of by contractors and were unable to pay the fees. By drywalling, installing insulation and spackling, the college students helped put the destroyed house back together again.

Through this shared experience, Marchiafava said the group became a family.

“To have so many different backgrounds mix together perfectly was one of the best things,” he said.

Marchiafava said the community embraced the cause. He reminisced about being stopped by a woman in Wawa while they were wearing their Spring Fix T-shirts. She expressed gratitude after they explained what they were doing. He said that locals “knew we were trying to help other people out and they were very excited about what we were doing.”

From the couple they helped to the students who participated, Marchiafava said this project had a resounding effect on him, which his sister recognized.

“After hearing what my brother had to say about the program and seeing everything his group did to help individuals rebuild their lives, I would say I believe the program is one of the best things that MTV has put together thus far,” Angelina Machiafava said. “The shore will never be the same, but we still need to do our best to restore it and make it even better than it once was.”

Printed in the 4/12/13 edition

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