For Immediate Release —May 14, 2009
David Irwin
Media Relations Manager
(585) 245-5516

Livingston County CARES Organization to Embark On 15th Trip to Help Hurricane Katrina Victims

GENESEO, N.Y. – A group of 23 students from the State University of New York at Geneseo and five others from the college faculty and local community will leave May 17 for Harrison County in Mississippi to continue relief and recovery efforts for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

It will be the 15th trip to the area by the Livingston County CARES organization, a collaborative effort among groups and organizations at SUNY Geneseo and the Livingston County community that started shortly after the devastating hurricane hit.  To date, 398 volunteers from the organization have gone to the area on work trips.

“Our greatest effort has been helping families rebuild their houses,” said Tom Matthews, director of leadership, educational development and training at SUNY Geneseo and chair of Livingston County CARES.   “We have worked on more than 30 houses.”

Matthews said many people in the area would still be out of their homes if it weren’t for the great number of volunteer organizations like Livingston County CARES who have put in countless hours to help.  “Many of the homeowners didn’t have enough insurance to begin to rebuild so the volunteers have made a big difference,” said Matthews, who is making his fifth trip with the group.  “The people are always very grateful when we arrive.”

Volunteer organizations take direction from a host agency in Mississippi on where they will work.  “We have been working primarily in the Biloxi area and have established a good relationship with the people there and with Harrison County officials,” said Matthews.  “They appreciate that we aren’t in-and-out for a one-time effort but are committed until the job is done.”

Matthews said that students who go on the work trips get real-world experience on the meaning of civic engagement.  “They are taking the time to make a positive impact on people’s lives and their communities,” said Matthews.  “They will carry such commitment with them the rest of their lives.”

Livingston County CARES has additional work trips planned in Mississippi in the winter and spring of 2010.