SCHEMMER’s Eric Deters, P.E., is not one to turn down a volunteer opportunity. He recently attended the 2014 New York Says Thank You (NYSTY) Foundation’s 1 Day Ranch event from September 4-7 in Bethel Acres, Oklahoma, with about 300 other volunteers from around the country and Canada.
NYSTY was formed as a way to say thank you for the support New Yorkers received in the wake of 9/11, and they aim to “Pay it Forward” with volunteering events held all over the country. The idea came from a five-year-old boy from New York who wanted to send his old toys to kids in California who had lost their homes in the 2003 firestorm. NYSTY’s mission is to “send volunteers from New York City each year on the 9/11 anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by natural or man-made disasters as our way of commemorating the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks, and months following 9/11.”
Deters learned of the foundation through his parents, who became actively involved after NYSTY came to Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Iowa. The volunteers helped build a chapel in place of the cabin that was destroyed in the deadly 2008 tornado that hit the camp when 118 youth and adults were attending an annual Boy Scouts training event.
The week prior to the 13th anniversary of 9/11, NYSTY, in partnership with other supporters, set out to rebuild 1 Day Ranch, a “horse rescue, therapeutic riding and animal education facility,” which was damaged beyond repair by a tornado in May of 2013.
This year, Deters started out as a team leader, only knowing a few people, but quickly bonded with other volunteers, and made friends he won’t soon forget. He had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country, spending all day working alongside one another in service, and spent the nights hearing each other’s stories and getting to know one another personally. This experience was two-fold; helping the community, as well as learning about others and witnessing firsthand how generous and sincere people can be. It goes to show that not only believing in, or supporting a cause is important, but getting your hands dirty makes you feel like you’re making a real difference. Deters has already committed to filling the role as team leader for the next two years during NYSTY’s National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“The people are the number one reason I signed up to volunteer again for this foundation, and because of how rewarding it is to give back,” Deters said.
To learn more about the New York Says Thank You foundation and how you can support, click here and view photos of the event below.
(Closing ceremony photo at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and sunset photo, courtesy of The New York Says Thank You Foundation’s Facebook page).