One year after Hurricane Matthew, UNC’s work in the community continues

One of the most destructive hurricanes in the past decade, Hurricane Matthew delivered more than 13 inches of rain in North Carolina over the course of 24 hours. It caused $1.5 billion in flood damage to 100,000 houses, businesses and government buildings, took the lives of 28 North Carolinians, forced more than 4,000 people to evacuate, and slammed into 50 counties across the state, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. One year later, North Carolina is still recovering and UNC continues to help those affected – first in the recovery process and now assisting with rebuilding.


Hurricane Matthew disaster relief trip to FayettevilleThe Carolina Center for Public Service has pledged $5,000 for building materials to the Adopt-A-Home program founded by the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church (NCCUMC). Adopt-A-Home completely rebuilds and furnishes houses for displaced Lumberton residents. The Center will work with the Employee Forum, the Carolina Hazards Resilience Planners and other campus partners to provide volunteer labor to repair roofs, install walls and flooring, paint and more.

More than 1,000 Lumberton homes were damaged by Hurricane Matthew and for many residents not yet back in their homes, insurance and FEMA checks do not cover the full cost of repairs. Help from the UNC community ensures that another family will return to their home. In Lumberton, 176 houses are either finished or are currently being rebuilt.

Gary Locklear, regional director of Disaster Response for NCCUMC and a Pembroke, North Carolina native, witnessed his neighbors’ heartbreak as they looked at the remains of what used to be their homes.

“That was my first dose of reality,” Locklear said. “To watch this elderly woman asking ‘what can I keep.’”

Each home adopted through the program will be handicap accessible and will have new appliances. For homes that are beyond repair and must be rebuilt, there are two, three and four bedroom floorplan options to ensure each home is tailored to each family’s needs.

“I’m so passionate because Lumberton is home for me,” Locklear said. “I was there; I sat through all that rain. So many of these clients of ours, I know them… It makes them feel so good when I know someone they know or they recognize my name, and they feel they can trust me.”

Because the program relies on free labor, each house takes several months to build. The primary needs are for carpentry and construction volunteers, and money to meet the shortfall between the actual cost to rebuild or repair and insurance and FEMA funds.

Disaster Relief Trips

In the weeks and months after Hurricane Matthew, groups of UNC students, faculty and staff traveled to Lumberton, Garland, Princeville and Fayetteville, North Carolina to help with recovery efforts. Their work included mucking out buildings, tearing down water-logged walls and cabinetry, pulling up floors and removing debris. The next phase in the relief effort focuses on rebuilding. This semester, the Carolina Center for Public Service is sponsoring rebuilding trips to Lumberton on Oct. 6 and Dec. 1. These day trips are open to the campus community — faculty, staff and students. Work includes installing floors, walls and cabinets, painting and roof repair. While no experience is required, those with building skills are encouraged to volunteer. With supervisor approval, staff and faculty can use community service leave to participate in a relief trip.

Darrell Kidd on a disaster relief trip to LumbertonDarrell Kidd, exercise and sport science utility crew supervisor, has worked in construction for many years. He and his wife, Teresa, who is an accounting tech in the School of Social Work, participated in a disaster relief trip last December and plan to work in disaster rebuilding when they retire from UNC.

“I believe our trip helped people see that there are those who care – [from] those who are older to those who are young,” Kidd said. “We had a great mixed group that worked hard together and I am interested in going down again with UNC. I have many talents in the construction area and believe that I could be of help to those who are working hard to restore the homes that were damaged.”

To learn more about UNC disaster relief trips, visit Hurricane Matthew Disaster Relief efforts.


Researchers across UNC-Chapel Hill are also working on projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. More than sixteen teams are working on storm-related projects on topics such as water quality, buy-out programs and coastal resilience.

Mark Little, director of NC Growth, is helping to coordinate a corporate community investment project and other UNC system resources to address Princeville’s challenges and needs around rebuilding nearly the entire town, much of which sits in a floodplain.

Larry Engle, an epidemiology professor, is developing a web-based tool to help local public health professionals and state decision-makers prioritize and target community-level interventions for areas impacted by hurricanes.

Gavin Smith, Coastal Resilience Center director and head of the Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative, and his team are working with city officials and local residents in six priority communities across eastern North Carolina to assist them in developing post-disaster recovery plans.

To learn more about UNC research on Hurricane Matthew, see the Hurricane Matthew infographic.

If you would like to get involved in any of these efforts or know of other projects to share, contact

– Carolina –

Public service trainings connect students to community organizations

By Becca Kronebusch

The Buckley Public Service Scholars program (BPSS) strives to provide students with various diverse, specialized training opportunities within the community. One recent training partnership between BPSS and the YMCA of the Triangle taught students on how to effectively protect children from abuse through the Stewards of Children program.

Ryan Nilsen, program officer for the Carolina Center for Public Service, said there was a great deal of interest in training programs promoting child safety.

“It was a great fit because we have so many students looking for trainings and so many of those students are working directly with children,” Nilsen said.

Meredith Stewart, YMCA Child Safety and Program Risk Meredith Stewart, director of Child Safety and Program Risk at the YMCA, is a passionate advocate for Stewards of Children and leads most training sessions. In her training sessions, Stewart shares that one out of every 10 children is sexually assaulted in the United States. Learning about how to protect children in our community is paramount to ending child abuse.

“The sexual abuse of children is preventable, and I might have some information… that, if shared with other adults, can save a child,” Stewart said. “It is my responsibility to share this education with others so that children are protected and cared for and we, as a community, grow the next generation of healthy adults.”

Training sessions cover the five steps of protecting children: learning the facts, minimizing the opportunity, talking about it, recognizing the signs and reacting responsibly.

BPSS student Julia Corbett, a junior public policy and economics major from Somers, New York, said she participated in the training because as a camp counselor and babysitter, she cares about the children she interacts with.

“The most beneficial part of the training for me was the video interviews with survivors of child sexual abuse,” Corbett said. “Their stories were revealing and informative, and it helped me understand how abuse happens, what it looks like and its impact on children and survivors.”

Stewart also said she values the partnership between BPSS and Stewards of Children. One of her favorite parts about these sessions is meeting different people and learning from them.

“The story of child sexual abuse is not mine alone to tell,” she said. “I am just a messenger and teacher of prevention and awareness. I always say the best way to learn something is to teach it so I will keep teaching and learning… to change the statistics on child abuse.”

Stewards of Children will continue to partner with BPSS to train more students to successfully advocate for all children. The program also has community training sessions in various locations across the Triangle. Visit the YMCA of the Triangle to learn more or register for a community training session.


Public Service Fair

The 18th annual Public Service Fair is 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20 in the Pit. Students, faculty, staff and the public are invited to visit with more than 30 local nonprofits that will be on campus to share information and recruit volunteers. Engage in public service and learn about ways you can make a difference in your community. For nonprofits interested in participating, contact Luisa Brooks or call 919-843-7568.

Public Service Fair connects campus to community

By Becca Kronebusch

2016 Public Service FairFinding and connecting with local organizations is the first step in making a meaningful difference in the community. The 18th annual Public Service Fair, set for 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20 in the Pit, will help the UNC community do just that. More than 35 organizations will table in the Pit to share information with students, faculty and staff interested in getting involved in the community.

“UNC is enthusiastic about giving Tar Heels an easy way to serve in and with the community,” said Heather Sieber, a senior exercise and sport science major from Winchester, Virginia who is helping to organize the event. “Seeing people find their passion with an organization and connect with the community in such a meaningful way is what this fair is all about.”

Organizations participating this year include Piedmont Wildlife Center, the American Red Cross, Carolina Swim Clinic, Inter-Faith Council and The Arc of the Triangle. “There really is something for everyone,” Sieber added. “This year’s fair features organizations that address a wide variety of issues, from homelessness, hunger and mental health to the environment, hospice and aging.”

Susan Chandler, assistant director of volunteer services for The Arc, added, “Today’s students are the tolerant teachers, doctors, lawyers and business people of tomorrow. There is nothing more important than connecting and engaging our youth. Participating in UNC’s Public Service Fair puts us in direct contact with that audience so that we can directly engage students in our efforts.”

Hunger Lunch will also join these organizations in the Pit, selling all-you-can-eat beans, rice and cornbread for $5.

Each day, members of the Carolina community go above and beyond engaging in public service on campus, in the community and beyond. The Public Service Fair, organized by the Carolina Center for Public Service and Student Government, makes organizations accessible to students, faculty and staff.


APPLES Day 2017

Celebrate APPLES Day, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 13 at Polk Place. Snacks will be provided. For details, contact Check out the APPLES Day Snapchat filter!