Rowan Relief

Rowan Relief Stories

Shooting for the Shore: Rowan faculty to battle students in charity hoops game
RTN's sixth annual telethon to raise funds for hurricane relief
Preserving precious family photos: RTF prof volunteers with CARE for Sandy
Making a lasting impact: Firefighting Rowan freshman aids in hometown recovery efforts
Rowan Engineering professor uses soil expertise to restore the Shore
Sophomore's 'Restore the Shore' T-shirt design spurs huge Hurricane Sandy relief initiative

Shooting for the Shore: Rowan faculty to battle students in charity hoops game

April 07, 2013Rowan Relief Shooting for the Shore

Rowan University professors and staff members will challenge students on the hardwood—instead of in the classroom—on Friday, April 19, during “Shooting for the Shore” a basketball game to benefit the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund.

The co-ed game, which is open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Esby Gymnasium. Monetary donations and canned food donations for hurricane victims will be accepted at the door.

Organized by the Sport Clubs Department at the Rowan Rec Center, the game also will include an auction of donated items from professional sports teams, restaurants, Rowan teams, and other collegiate teams.

“Shooting for the Shore” is part of Rowan Relief, an initiative organized by the University to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy.

For information, visit

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RTN's sixth annual telethon to raise funds for hurricane relief

April 05, 2013

Eighty Rowan University students will share their talents as broadcasters, producers, and camera operators for a good cause on Wednesday, April 10, when Rowan Television Network (RTN) presents its sixth annual telethon.

This year, the five-hour broadcast, which runs from 7 p.m.-midnight on Channel 5 on Rowan’s campus, will attempt to raise $7,500 for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Proceeds raised during the telethon will go to Restore the Shore Projects and the Waves for Water New Jersey Sandy Relief Initiative.

Since last fall, when Hurricane Sandy decimated parts of New Jersey and New York, Rowan students, faculty and staff have volunteered with clean-up efforts and raised funds through events as part of Rowan Relief, a University-wide initiative.

The RTN telethon continues that important work, says co-executive producer Vin D’Anton, a senior radio/television/film (RTF) major from Toms River. D’Anton, who grew up in Seaside Heights, said hurricane relief is important to him and many members of the RTN crew who are donating their time to work on the telethon.

D’Anton’s brother lost his home in the storm and his father lost his Lavallette office.

“The telethon means the world to me,” says D’Anton, who is hoping that the telethon surpasses its goal. “If we were able to raise $6,100 for the Make a Wish Foundation last year, what can we do for our own home state?”
The telethon will include special guest interviews, both in studio and on location, live bands, comedy acts and other entertainment, according to senior RTF major Chelsea Dobrucki of Williamstown, who is co-executive producer. Students began planning the telethon in November, she says.

“A lot of us felt very strongly about raising money for Hurricane Sandy relief,” says Dobrucki. “We have 80 people on the crew. Six months of our lives are dedicated to the telethon.”

The telethon, which has raised funds for Make A Wish and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, among other charities, has made a difference in just a few years—and become a real tradition in Rowan’s College of Communication & Creative Arts, Dobrucki notes.

“This is only our sixth year,” says Dobrucki. “The first year, our goal was just $300. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time.”

Although the hurricane happened months ago, victims still need assistance, D’Anton maintains. By volunteering their talents, RTN members are poised to help, he adds.

“The clean-up is not over. And it’s not going to be over for a long time,” he says.

A student-run organization, RTN presents programs on Channel 5 on Rowan’s campus and also a simulcast web stream 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The award-winning network covers live campus events, including athletic competitions, Homecoming, theatrical and variety show performance, and guest speakers.

To watch the telethon or make a contribution, visit

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Preserving precious family photos: RTF prof volunteers with CARE for Sandy

December 05, 2012

They are precious moments in time…captured on film.

And Jonathan Mason is helping to make sure that every photo—from Grandmom and Grandpop at Thanksgiving in 1981 to a first Holy Communion in 1979 to graduation day in 1965—is painstakingly restored.

After all, the Rowan University radio/television/film (RTF) professor says, property damaged by Hurricane Sandy can be replaced. But analogue photos of yesteryear, taken before the digital era, just can’t be so easily.

That’s why Mason is volunteering as a managing member of CARE (Cherished Albums Restoration Effort) for Sandy, an initiative to help victims recover storm-damaged print photographs and, in some cases, even old home movies. Begun by New York-based art director Lee Kelly, a friend of Mason’s, CARE for Sandy is bringing together photographers, photo-restorers and artists from around the world to share their talents to preserve family photos and old home movies damaged by the Oct. 29 hurricane.

A second-year Rowan professor, Mason is coordinating and helping to categorize photo retouchers, who, he says, are volunteering in droves for CARE for Sandy through a website, and Facebook page,

Volunteers have included a retoucher from Ken Burns’ production company, Florentine Films, and Lloyd Kaplowitz, a film archivist who restored “The Godfather” and “Bladerunner.” Volunteers so far have hailed from the United States, Mexico, Sweden, Canada, Italy, Spain, Brazil, The Netherlands and as far away as Russia. They’re all sharing their vast talents to preserve precious family memories.

Volunteers are scanning in victims’ photos at events organized in Sandy-stricken areas such as the Rockaways in New York. The group is then entering them into a common database where retouchers choose the photos they restore based on their level of expertise.

“This project really snowballed in just a couple of days,” says Mason. “Without advertising the program very much, we’ve had a rapidly growing influx of volunteers.”

“A car damaged in the hurricane can be replaced, but, in many cases, these photos are the only mementos of specific and cherished moments in time,” he continues. “There’s something about that that everybody relates to.”

The idea of preserving physical photos is a slowly fading concept now that everything is essentially just data and often stored in several easily accessible digital locations, Mason says. But for those of us not born in the digital era, many of our fondest memories are still on film.

“It’s great,” Mason says, “to see artists stepping up to use their talents to help.”

“Photos,” the CARE for Sandy website states, “contain deep-rooted significance. Photos preserve stories. Photos foster soul and spirit.”

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Making a lasting impact: Firefighting Rowan freshman aids in hometown recovery efforts

November 23, 2012

Volunteer Firefighter Spencer Arnold Rowan ReliefMissing a week of school for most students is the perfect vacation, but for Rowan University freshman Spencer Arnold, this break was no vacation. He spent his week away from Rowan helping his beachfront town of Manasquan evacuate and recover from Hurricane Sandy.

For the past two years, the accounting and finance major has served as a volunteer firefighter in Manasquan.  At 18, he already has helped in recovery and evacuation efforts during the Christmas 2010 blizzard and Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.

Arnold’s experience with his fire company, Manasquan Volunteer Engine Company No. 2 during Hurricane Sandy, was “pretty intense,” he said.

From before the storm hit on Monday, Oct. 29. at 7 p.m. until 5 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30, Arnold assisted in evacuating people who did not heed the warning to leave. Due to a full moon and high tide, water levels in some places reached near 15 feet when the hurricane hit.

Arnold stands over six feet tall. Remarkably, the high water levels reached above his waist.

The Wednesday after Sandy’s destruction, the beachfront was destroyed and the sand moved six blocks inland, Arnold said.

With assistance from the National Guard, Arnold’s fire company spent the days after the storm distributing food and supplies, shutting off gas lines and removing sand from the town.

National Guard responders were referring to Sandy as the “Katrina of the Jersey shore,” he said.

Even today many residents of Manasquan are without power and clean water.  The reconstruction of the town could take up to two years, Arnold said.

So why would a college freshman give up his time and risk his life for others?

“I get pleasure out of helping the community,” said Arnold.

Being a part of the fire company is not only a hobby for Arnold. He can see it turning into a career.

The work, he said, is a way to “impact the community in a lasting way.”

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Rowan Engineering professor uses soil expertise to restore the Shore

November 19, 2012

Rowan University College of Engineering’s Dr. Beena Sukumaran, professor and chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, dedicated the first weekend of November to determining the damage left in Superstorm Sandy’s wake.

As a member of the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER), Sukumaran and her team surveyed various bridges and communities along the Jersey Shore, from Brigantine to Belmar.

According to its website, engineers from around the world comprise GEER, a National Science Foundation initiative providing preliminary surveys following geotechnically significant extreme events. Extreme events include earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, mudslides and floods. Recently GEER responded to earthquakes in Italy, Eastern Turkey, Virginia, Japan, New Zealand, California, Chile and Haiti, and to a flood along the lower Mississippi River.

Engineers now are evaluating destruction and causes of failure of engineered structures such as bridges, buildings, roads, slope protection systems and tunnels in New Jersey and New York. The lessons learned will help professionals rethink design strategies for damage prevention in the future. Sukumaran, whose expertise is in soil mechanics, assessed all soil-related damage, particularly to bridge foundations. She’s corresponding with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection — the first storm responders — to develop a comprehensive report within the first six months following the storm.

In her first assessment with GEER, Sukumaran worked long hours preparing and gauging coastal damage. While her colleagues stayed in Atlantic City, Sukumaran returned home to her husband and daughter for the night before heading back to work at 5 a.m.

She described using her expertise to evaluate devastation so close to home as painful.

“You do hope you can make a difference — and ideally there will be lessons learned for the future so we don’t see repeats of this,” said Sukumaran.

The assessment is ongoing, as the group was unable to access Long Beach Island and other barrier islands during the first weekend. Several students assisted Sukumaran in assessing damage due to breaches in the bulkheads in Atlantic City along the Absecon inlet.

“Our students are never hesitant to help and are willing to volunteer their time and local knowledge,” said Sukumaran.

A larger Rowan Relief effort is bringing University students, faculty, staff and alumni together in an ongoing effort to assist in restoring the New Jersey Shore post-Superstorm Sandy through various service projects.

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Sophomore's 'Restore the Shore' T-shirt design spurs huge Hurricane Sandy relief initiative

November 13, 2012

Derek Koch Restore The ShoreIt’s just crazy, Derek Koch says, “how a simple design, a simple graphic, and a couple of words…can really get people going.”

Koch should know. A graphic he created in a couple of hours in his apartment at the Whitney Center at Rowan University to support Jersey Shore victims of Hurricane Sandy has garnered worldwide attention—and led to an extraordinary chain of events that already has raised more than $300,000 thus far for relief efforts. The effort promises to raise much, much more.

On Halloween night, as New Jerseyans began to realize the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, Koch, an art major with a specialization in graphic design, fiddled around on his computer. Just after midnight, he created what he calls a “simple” graphic that he hoped to put on a few T-shirts and sell to Rowan students as a way to raise money for hurricane victims.

Koch’s effort is just one in a number of relief efforts undertaken by Rowan students, faculty and staff to assist hurricane victims. For information on all of the efforts—known as Rowan Relief—visit

The “Restore the Shore” graphic created by Koch shows a silhouette of the state and a silhouette of the now-destroyed roller coaster on Seaside Heights, with the international hurricane symbol serving as the “S” in the word “restore.”

Read more about this story here.

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