SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — While some college students spend their spring break going on vacation or relaxing, Bryant University sophomore Justin Battick and his friends will be helping people recover from Hurricane Ian.
Battick spent his winter break rebuilding homes in Pine Island, Florida, and this week he’ll embark on his second service trip with a team of 14 other students and staff to continue what they started.
“That island is completely underwater,” Battick said. “That place won’t be back to normal for the next five to six years.”
The Bryant Student Involvement Board granted more than $20,000 to make the second trip possible, and with equipment from the Florida American Legion, the team will be able to rebuild what was lost.
“What we do is we gut the homes,” Battick explained. “There’s water everywhere. We put on full suits, masks, and we also try to clean up the outside.”
In addition to cleaning up the physical damage, the team works to help residents recover from the mental impact of the devastating storm.
“These people were defeated,” Battick said. “I was talking to the community, no one had a smile on their face. Those people’s lives were ruined. They’ve lost animals, loved ones … they lost everything they worked for.”
Battick looks at free time as an opportunity to help others.
“Instead of going to a resort or hanging out with friends, I want to always create value,” he added. “I want to leave where I’m coming from, I’d rather impact some one’s life than go have a good time.”
And the team of Bryant students are not stopping there. Battick told 12 News they’re already making plans for more projects in the future.