Brian Chandler

September 17, 2019

In between brushstrokes of bright-colored paint, Brian Chandler explained to his daughters how their hours of donated time will help refugees in Wilmington. Chandler and his family were among the volunteers helping Global Connections get their building ready to serve the local refugee community during “Wings Up for Wilmington,” UNCW’s day of service commemorating the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Florence.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, approximately 350 UNCW faculty, staff and students volunteered their assistance and expertise with over a dozen local organizations. “Wings Up for Wilmington” was organized by UNCW’s Center for Faculty Leadership.

“As the year goes by, even though you are seeing fewer and fewer tarps, an event like this is a reminder there are a lot of people still dealing with Florence, and these projects were needs before and after the storm,” said Chandler, an associate professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. “Hurricane Florence brought those needs to the forefront.”

Chandler and his wife Keri, a Spanish lecturer, were familiar with the work of Global Connections, a nonprofit organization that assists refugees fleeing war, violence and persecution. Joined by their daughters, Camille, 9, and Lily, 5, the Chandlers painted the inside of the center, which will host classes and empowerment programs and eventually a thrift store.

“The Center for Faculty Leadership did an excellent job identifying local organizations where volunteers could make the biggest impact in the community,” said Chandler. “The event was thoughtfully organized and allowed volunteers to contribute to diverse areas of need in our community. Because ‘Wings Up’ provided us with this opportunity, my family is now planning to continue to volunteer at Global Connections on an ongoing basis.”

Chandler has offered his help to community organizations in the past, volunteering to translate documents and interpret for Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Florence. He also aided neighbors and friends with repairs or removal of personal items from their flooded houses.

“One thing that I have been struck by at UNCW, and honestly it’s humbling, is how much our students, faculty and staff give and contribute to the community,” he said. “An event like this is high-profile and it gets people’s attention, but every day there are hundreds of students working in the community, and faculty and staff members dedicating their free time and their professional expertise. It is representative of the giving back that happens every day.”

-- Venita Jenkins