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Foundation, Social Media Helped BCC Recover

May 10, 2013 by admin


Dan Soden & Mike DeMarco

     This past October, Superstorm Sandy made its way through the East Coast, destroying homes and lives. Communities were torn apart, but with strong efforts they were able to come together and help one another rebuild. 

     Brookdale Community College came together following the storm to help those within the community rebuild and try to make sense of what had happened.

     The school went into action immediately with the radio station and social media outlets becoming go-to places for information. Brookdale’s President Dr. Maureen Murphy wanted the school to take more action and called for the Brookdale Foundation to create a disaster relief fund to provide aid to currently-enrolled students impacted by Sandy, so they could continue their studies at Brookdale.

     “The Brookdale Foundation is pleased that we could provide disaster relief financial assistance to students who needed help to stay enrolled at Brookdale so they could continue to pursue their dream of earning a college degree,” said Timothy Zeiss, the executive director of the foundation. “These funds, plus the more than $320,000 in financial aid scholarships we funded this year for nearly 450 students, are vital to our students’ success.”

     The fund was created last November and set out to assist students affected by the storm. They started a campaign with the theme of “Giving 100%-Every Dollar Counts.”

     Initially the foundation was implemented to get funds out to the students who were struggling to stay enrolled at Brookdale.  Following that, they instituted a more detailed follow-up process to secure more information.

     “To date, the foundation has provided $90,000 in financial assistance to nearly 100 students and they continue to honor requests, even as new ones come in,” said Zeiss. “We are still accepting new requests, but we will deplete the fund balance this spring.”

     The foundation has been able to secure $144,000 to help those students affected by Sandy, with $15,766 coming in as donations from Brookdale staff, alumni, students, and friends. They were also able to secure funds from Robin Hood Relief Fund and National Student Nurses Association.

     The foundation does continue to receive thank you letters from students who’ve received help from them.

     The text alerts allowed Brookdale students, who remained without power and the ability to go to their car, charge their phone and find out what was going on.

     “Prior to Sandy, Brookdale had 8,011 registered users for the texts alerts, following Sandy the number of people who were registered for the text alerts rose by 1,799 to a total of 9,810 users. That number today is even higher with 10,556 users,” said Avis McMillon, director of communications and public relations here at Brookdale.

     Christine Busacca, an administrator for the social media and advertising department of Brookdale said, “The school had an incredible increase in our online social media presence following the storm. The school’s official Facebook account reached over a million people following the storm and was a major information hub for those who had no other way of finding out what had happened.”

     Brookdale’s official Facebook page gained 2,000 likes and their Twitter account grew to 500 followers. These outlets became major news hubs for those in the area looking to stay up-to-date the best they could on what was going on.

     “Text messaging and social media are great communication tools to help us keep our community informed during emergency situations. Facebook was particularly successful because students were able to ask questions and receive almost immediate feedback,” said McMillon. “We were also able to communicate decisions made during the storm.”

     From when the storm hit and up until now, Brookdale has made a huge effort in making sure that those affected by Sandy had the ability to stay informed and were given the chance to continue earning their education.

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