In a mission that is in keeping with the environmental and community service focus of the student body, first-year students at Unity College have organized a relief effort for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

A fundraiser will be held on December 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts (UCCPA), 42 Depot Street, Unity.  The event will feature a concert by recording artists The Coloradas, a Maine-based bluegrass band, information about hurricane relief, and presentations by Unity College students.

Roy Davis and Bernie Nye of The Coloradas (both Waldo County natives), are the songwriting team that wrote the critically acclaimed albums Deadweight and We Are A Lightning Bolt.

Tickets for the concert are $10 and may be purchased at the door. To reserve tickets call 948-SHOW. For more information or to offer a donation with 100% of the proceeds benefiting hurricane relief, contact John Zavodny at (207) 948-9129 or e-mail

At the center of relief efforts are a group of first-year Unity College students.  The students are enrolled in a class called The Unity Experience, which stresses Unity values including community engagement and environmental responsibility.

“While climate change experts would not say that Hurricane Sandy specifically is a direct result of global climate change, we can say with certainty that we are living with a changing climate and that violent events like Sandy are going to become more-and-more frequent and intense,” said John Zavodny, Professor.  “Unity College students are learning not only the science of climate change and how to mitigate it, but also how to respond to the human emergencies and crisis that results from such an event.”

Responding to weather related crisis is nothing new to members of the Unity College community.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Zavodny led a group of Unity students to the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans for hands-on disaster relief efforts.  Recent years have also brought a contingent of volunteers for tornado relief efforts in Brushy, Tennessee.

“Right now students are planning the specifics of a relief trip to the New York area,” noted Zavodny.  “It’s really gratifying to work with young people at this stage of their development and watch them develop concern for people and commitment to service.  Sara Trunzo, Unity’s Food and Farm Projects Coordinator, was a student when we planned the Katrina hurricane relief effort, now she is a staff member working with a new generation of young people.”

Sarah Cunningham, Assistant Professor, coordinates The Unity Experience course.

“I am excited to see students have the opportunity to turn classroom exercises into authentic real world service experiences,” Cunningham said.  “It is only at a college like Unity that we have the flexibility and institutional commitment to respond to think kind of need.  This is a response to student concern about friends and family in the New York area.  They initiated this effort.”

Both Zavodny and Cunningham stress that the course is focused on the sustainability science core concepts of adaptation and resilience.

“Turning intellectual exercises into boots-on-the-ground response to environmental and human crisis teaches students empowers students to make a difference, and demonstrate that sustainability science concepts are not just concepts, but have real implications for real people who are alive suffering today.”

WERU Community Radio 89.9 FM Blue Hill and 99.9 FM Bangor is the media partner for the effort, which has been entitled ME HEARTS NY.

Zavodny, who, along with Trunzo, co-hosts Mid-Coast Currents, a WERU Community Radio public affairs program covering Knox and Waldo Counties added, “Having WERU on-board with ME HEARTS NY makes certain that everyone in this part of Maine will know about the December 8th event.  Maine is so lucky to have a community resource like WERU.”

Unity College is a small private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Friday, November 09, 2012