[All the ruined items being placed outside the Lazo’s house just two days after the Hurricane ripped through Rockaway – Photo by Ryan Lazo]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
If there was ever any doubt in my mind on whether I chose to attend the right university, there is no question I know the answer now.
St. Bonaventure University is a part of me forever after what occurred over the past week.
As most people know, my family and I were badly affected by Hurricane Sandy. We live in Rockaway Park in Queens, N.Y. My house sits one block away from Jamaica Bay and one block away from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s a beautiful place to live, and I’ve cherished all my memories I have growing up in this tight-knit community.
However, Sandy changed everything.
The Category 1 hurricane roared into the peninsula and caused immediate havoc with a record storm surge of 10 to 12 feet. It immediately brought flooding to the area, and coupled with high tide and a full moon, the impact was devastating.
In the few times I was able to contact my family, they told me what was going on — flood water engulfing our entire first floor of the house and fires springing up all over my community.
I left for home as soon as I could and saw the damage first hand.
Everything was gone —My family’s clothes, furniture, my brother’s toys, DVDs and video games.
The worst was cleaning up the photo albums which held pictures of my childhood, vacations and other cherished memories.
It hurt to see my mother immediately begin to cry as she watched my dad, my brother and me get to work and try to clean up the place that was once our home.
The boardwalk that brought tourists to our area and made it a must-travel summer destination, destroyed. Businesses gone in the blink of an eye, including my own father’s restaurant.
But then something unexpected happened.
Jim Mahar led BonaResponds to my community and, specifically, my home. The group, filled with some friends, Bona students and alumni, helped us clean it up in a matter of hours, tearing down walls, moving anything that could be salvaged and helping boost the morale of my family.
In addition to the immediate action of BonaResponds, my family and I were swarmed with texts, phone calls, messages and tweets from those within the Bona community reaching out with support.
And that support turned into a donation page, one that promised to help me and my family begin the recovery process.
In a time of need, the Bonaventure community showed its true colors.
It’s a community that is caring of each other, one that is not afraid to reach out and help those in need. Not only were they able to help me, but they were able to help my community, and the strangers we worked with quickly became family.
There are not enough words in the English language that can truly describe how thankful I am.
This university has not only given me an education and the tools to claim a job in the workforce — they gave me another family.
While a simple “Thank You” will not suffice for how much everyone within this amazing Bonaventure family has helped me, it truly is meant with all my heart.
The saying really is true — “Once a Bonnie, always a Bonnie.”
And I will never forget it.
[A video compilation of the damage Hurricane Sandy did to the Rockaways]