The flood waters have long since receded, but fewer than 20 percent of Schoharie County residents evicted by 2011's Tropical Storm Irene have returned to their homes.
To reassure beleaguered residents that the union family is there to help for the long haul, dozens of NYSUT staff volunteered for a United Way Day of Action July 22 in Schoharie County.
They brought gardening tools, battery-powered drills and perennial plants from their own gardens to help landscape a Head Start building and other locations in the still-recovering farm community.
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira and Schoharie TA President Martin Messner led the NYSUT contingent in their volunteer service. Messner, who was named a 2012 American Federation of Teachers Everyday Hero for his leadership in the wake of the devastating storm, said his members are heartened by the continuing support of fellow unionists. During the United Way Day of Action, that support included literally getting their hands dirty planting flowers and other plants as symbols that the community is coming back from the devastation wrought by Irene.
NYSUT, perennially a leader in United Way contributions, was joined in the service day by members of CSEA, PEF and CWA.
"NYSUT is proud to be a community force in support of United Way," said Neira, who oversees the union's annual United Way campaign. "This day of service was a wonderful way to personally make a difference with our hands-on help."
Rebecca Miller, one of NYSUT volunteers, said: "We hope that, through our efforts, people can see that things are starting to get back to normal and look beautiful again."