By Meghan Creane
Union has produced a variety of alumni including politicians, Noble Prize recipients, educators, photographers, authors and more. However, Union can now add ‘self-starting philanthropist’ to the list.
Josh DeBartolo who graduated from Union in 2008 said “[Union’s] education teaches you how to think.” As a co-valedictorian, he immediately began working as an analyst for Goldman-Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2010, he left Goldman-Sachs and began doing non-profit economic development in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Last summer, DeBartolo decided to work in Denver.
However, when he returned home to New York for his younger brother’s wedding, he changed his plans. Hurricane Irene struck, leaving much of the East Coast damaged. Schoharie County, where DeBartolo was, was hit especially hard. The wedding reception hall had to be used as an evacuation center for between 30 and 50 people every night for a month.
From the chaos Irene caused, DeBartolo was inspired to form Schoharie Recovery Inc. Most recently, Schoharie County has finished demolition work and is now in the process of rebuilding what was lost and damaged because of Irene.
DeBartolo works as a volunteer and construction coordinator on “over 400 properties” and has been in charge of over 20,000 volunteers.
Upon interviewing him, he stressed that his time at Union helped him get to this point in his life and career.
DeBartolo participated in mini-terms in both India and New Orleans, two trips he believed were the most influential of his experiences at Union.
He noted that on his trip to India he came out of his shell, and that he was inspired by his trip to New Orleans, the first Hurricane Katrina relief trip that Union had. After this, he and his friends from the mini-term organized a second Katrina relief effort. “The friends [I] made on each of these trips are some of my closest friends today,” said DeBartolo.
DeBartolo is still connected to Union and Schenectady by involving Union students in his volunteer efforts.
Around Halloween, Schoharie Relief Inc. will be hosting an event at Bombers as a matching grant fundraising event, started by a private donor.