Thousands of volunteers have flocked to upstate New York to help complete strangers recover from Tropical Storm Irene. But for some, the experience of helping people they've never met before, will allow them to help their own families. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, lessons learned in Schoharie County will travel around the world.
MIDDLEBURGH, N.Y. -- Sitting in the Middleburgh Village Hall, Donald Osei-Owusu, 24, an Americorp Vista, is a long way from his family and friends in Ghana, Africa.
"I heard there was a flood here, and people were struggling. I felt like this was a good way for me to use the skills that I've learned to help a community," said Osei-Owusu.
Donald is one of twelve VISTAS currently helping with flood recovery throughout Schoharie County.
"They've helped to recruit over 600 volunteers, and helped to bring in over $24,000 in fund development," said Jerrine Corallo, VISTA Supervisor for SALT.
Donald says he's most proud of an idea he got funded, to build an information kiosk here on Main Street, to help boost tourism in the area.
"There will be room for brochures, and a map of the Main Street area," said Osei-Owusu.
But while Donald is helping our neighbors rebuild, he's also learning valuable lessons to help revitalize his own community.
Osei-Owusu said, "That's pretty much my ultimate goal, I don't care if I make money doing it. The per capita income in Ghana right now is less than $2,000 annually."
"That is one of the underlying benefits of being a VISTA, the experience you get and get to take onto the next opportunity you take advantage of," said Corallo.
Donald has helped businesses here in Middleburgh get back on their feet by applying for grants. A skill he says will go a long way back in Ghana.
"Being here has taught me a lot about what it takes to get things going, and I think that will take a me a long way to be able to make a difference back home in Ghana," said Osei-Owusu.
Donald will serve in Middleburgh through the end of August.