Anand Mitra (ND MBA ’07) emerged from the fury of Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed, in his view. “We had a power outage for about 30 hours, but that was about it,” says the Jersey City, N.J., resident who is a vice president with Citi.
But that obviously wasn’t the case for thousands of people living on the East Coast. Mitra was cut off from his office in lower Manhattan by the power blackouts and the crippling of the transit systems. From news reports and even the limited drives he took around the area, he could see that the devastation was unprecedented and large scale. There was no shortage of suffering.
Mitra contacted the Red Cross to see how he could help. He and a few colleagues from Citibank went to a housing project in Coney Island, N.Y., where residents were marooned in the high-rise buildings. The entire neighborhood was blacked out, says Mitra. No lights, no stores open. The Red Cross had some supplies such as batteries and flashlights, but what the people really needed was the basic necessities – food, water, diapers, formula, toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
He began texting friends, including those from his Notre Dame network. In short order, Mitra had collected $1,500 in pledges, and was headed off to B.J.’s Wholesale Club for the biggest grocery run of his life.
The pictures show cart after cart, heaped with diapers, fruit, bottled water, paper supplies, peanut butter and snacks – supplies that were precious to people who had been without power for two weeks. They loaded his SUV to the brim and drove back to the neighborhood. Once there, they faced the problem of transporting the groceries up 20 floors to residents too elderly to retrieve them themselves. But with the help of additional volunteers already working in the area, they soon had everything delivered.
As New York and the hard-hit communities slowly get back to normal life, Mitra downplays his role in the relief efforts.
“I had everything working, and other people didn’t,” he says. “You feel like you got really lucky, so you have to do something.”
“To me, this is a living example of the Notre Dame Spirit,” says Bill Brennan, director of Notre Dame MBA Program Initiatives and one of the people whom Mitra reached out to. “Their gesture shows a greatness of heart, and that sometimes the best way to give back doesn’t require a massive campaign. They saw a need and acted. I am very proud of Anand and his wife Rasmi for having done this!”