CCAC South Campus students travel to Houston to help victims of Hurricane Harvey

South Campus student volunteers
South group in Houston
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-Five students from CCAC South Campus traveled to Houston, Texas, this month to help residents who are still struggling to recover from the disastrous flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, which caused at least 106 deaths in the U.S. last August. The group spent four days in mid-May working with All Hands and Hearts, a nonprofit organization that responds to natural disasters by engaging volunteers from around the world to address the immediate and long-term needs of impacted communities. The CCAC students-Victor Yates, of Carrick; Wesley Molton-Greening, of South Park; Kimberly Calderon Quintero, of Scott Township; Zeynep Koc, of Greenfield; and Ashok Kadarya, of Whitehall; along with CCAC Student Development Specialist Abby Hindman-were amazed by the devastation they saw and how much work still needed to be done.

The volunteers worked from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in near 100-degree heat on a variety of projects, including painting, hanging paneling, ripping up floors and "mucking and gutting" a house that had not been touched since the flooding, resulting in mold and rotting boards. The house had to be completely gutted and rebuilt in order to bring a 14-year-old boy with cancer back home to his family. The gratitude expressed by the boy's grandmother and others for the volunteers' efforts made a significant impact on the students.

"It honestly changed the way I view my life," said Yates, who has a renewed faith in the power of people working together to repair and sustain their community. "I feel like I'm a better leader, and I have a way better mindset. I'm more appreciative of the things I have. So much can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye."

The students also worked on the Rhodes School building, formally a school for low-income and minority students studying performing arts, which was destroyed by the hurricane. More than 80 percent of the students were displaced to another school and, since then, only 40 percent of the students remain in school due to transportation issues. For Yates, seeing smiles on the faces of the students, who were attending school in a trailer, was well worth all of the work he put in to build a handicapped ramp to the school. 

The CCAC students learned many new technical skills-and so much more. Although strangers at first, the diverse group, which included immigrants from Nepal, Turkey and Columbia, have become close friends through their shared experiences.

"This trip was a huge success," said Hindman, who served as chaperone and worked alongside the students. "It was so humbling for all of us-and everyone was willing to put aside their own personal interests, come out of their comfort zone and work together to help this community."

Originally offered as an alternative spring break, the trip had to be rescheduled for various reasons. CCAC Student Life covered the students' traveling expenses and also provided funds to purchase the required steel-toed boots. The group was housed in a church, where they lived communally with dozens of other volunteers from around the country and the world.

The trip was not only a great experience. "It was just a blessing," said Yates. "I would love to do this again; I would do it as many times as I can."

To learn more about CCAC Student Life, go to


Taking a break from their volunteer work in Houston are CCAC South Campus students, from the left: Zeynep Koc, Victor Yates, Ashok Kadariya, Kimberly Calderon Quintero and Wesley Molton-Greening.

CCAC South Campus students and Student Development Specialist Abby Hindman gather for a group selfie at their host church.

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