Thursday, April 22, 2010

Park View comes together for their own

April 22, 2010
Cranston Herald
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

With at least 10 families severely impacted by the March floods, and several still displaced from their homes, Park View Middle School rose to action last Thursday with a Field Day for Flood Victims.

They hoped to raise $3,000 that day, but far surpassed that amount and collected almost $5,500.

Staff and students at Park View organized the event within a few days.

“It’s all about the school community here,” said Assistant Principal Chris D’Ambrosio.

The weather was favorable for the field day, and activity stations dotted the lawn. Inside, guests were treated to an ice cream social.

At the same time, 92 Pro-FM took music requests and promoted the event on the air.

According to D’Ambrosio, students were each asked to bring in $3. Some families donated more, however, as well as outside agencies and neighboring businesses who made donations.

Billie-Jo Rossi, parent of three students; one at Park View, one at Chester Barrows and one at Cranston High School East, said it’s been the “regular people” and agencies like CCAP (Cranston Community Action Program,) who have helped out the most.

Rossi and her family lived at 60 Perkins Avenue, one of the worst areas affected by the floods. They have been displaced from their home and lost everything in it.

“We had 71 inches of water in our house,” said Rossi, showing page after page; one more devastating than the next, in the photo album that she is using to document flood damage. She has had to take a leave of absence from work to concentrate on the situation at hand.

Rossi said that her daughter at Park View is having the most difficult time coping, but the faculty and staff there has been wonderful in making accommodations and helping her to get through the days.

“I’ve been here seven years, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Annette Harris, Park View’s social worker. “They’ve lost everything; they can’t function, they can’t do their work, they just sit and cry. The teachers tell me these were the happiest kids. [Now,] the kids feel like life isn’t fair, and they feel selfish. They miss their things but they know their families need things like a hot water heater.”

In response to the devastation, Harris contacted CCAP and together formed a trauma therapy group over April vacation week.

Principal Joseph Rotz was both proud and pleased with the results of the field day fundraiser.

“As a community, as a family, we wanted to do something for our children that had been displaced. The best way to do that was to raise quick funds for them,” he said.

Rotz explained that the money raised was given to the families on Friday, the last day of school before vacation.

“We’re hoping to call these families tomorrow and tell them that we’re praying for them, we’re thinking of them, and we care about them,” he said at the field day.

Rotz was also quick to credit his staff and faculty at Park View as being “completely responsible” for pulling the event together.

“It just goes to show how much our families will pull together when someone is in need,” he said.

He also made mention of the Parents and Teachers at Park View organization.

“They made a very generous donation at last night’s meeting of $500. That was top-notch, very thoughtful,” Rotz said.

Guests from the community visited the field day throughout the day. Mayor Allan Fung and a team of students took part in an intense Tug-A-War game against Rotz and another team of students, and then spoke to all of the students on the field, over the microphone.

“This is why I love this city and why I love all of you,” Fung said. “I’m proud to be here to see you helping each other through this crisis.”

Fung said he’s heard the stories of the students whose homes have been impacted by the floods.

“Each of the kids in the school and their families are helping their classmates, and others, through a very difficult time. Everyone is coming together to help the families in one of the hardest hit areas of Cranston,” he said.

Despite the fun and laughter being had at the field day, the Park View students understood the impact and true importance of what they were doing for each other on that day.

“I know one person who lost a lot in the floods,” said eighth-grader Emma Orton. “I am glad to be helping out.”

Fellow eighth-grader Kaileen Field agreed.

“I feel good about how we’re helping and supporting everybody whether we know them or not,” she said.

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