This past week marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the destructive and deadly storm that swept through the eastern part of the United States back in 2012. Here in New York, flooding destroyed thousands of homes and structures and further debilitated an already shut down transit system. Some areas haven’t been able to recover as quickly as others, but all communities affected have shown remarkable RESILIENCE.

StoryCorps is proud to launch a new collaborative project with The Rockefeller Foundation to record personal stories of resilience across the country. Resilience is the ability of people and communities to withstand catastrophic events–both natural and manmade–and to bounce back more quickly and emerge stronger from these economic, natural, or social shocks and stresses. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we see resilience all around us.

Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Giancinto and her mother Denise were living in the East Village, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the storm.

“All I [saw] was garbage thrown everywhere. I was just in awe ’cause I saw the city in such chaos. And I thought about all that had happened, and I was just like, ‘we really have to do something more.’”

Inspired to make change, Alyssa decided to join the Billion Oyster Project at her school, a long-term, large scale plan to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor to create a natural storm barrier for the future and to clean the harbor water.

Alyssa Giacinto

Alyssa Giacinto reaching into one of the local species holding tanks in the New York Harbor School Hatchery. Credit Sarah Shatz

Alyssa attends The Harbor School–located on Governors Island in New York–which is home to The Billion Oyster Project.

During their StoryCorps interview, Alyssa told her mother, “I have an amazing feeling of making a difference, but I’m not the only one. It’s me and other kids, and teachers, and other schools. It’s great that a whole bunch of people could come together and actually create this huge impact on the harbor.”

Alyssa Giacinto and her mother Denise Giacinto.

Alyssa Giacinto and her mother Denise Giacinto Credit Sarah Shatz.

The Stories of Resilience project is just getting started. We will continue to work with various partner organizations in New York and across the country to record stories of endurance and personal strength in their communities.

This is all in an effort to recognize the remarkable stories that surround us, and to celebrate the resilience found within us. By listening to stories about resilient individuals, families, cities, and neighborhoods, we hope to gain insight into what makes us strong, and unbreakable in the face of adversity.

Thanks Emily Hsiao, StoryCorps Custom Services, for sharing!

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