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Monday, May 20, 2013


Author’s note: This is dedicated to the people of Oklahoma who suffered a severe tornado on Monday, May 20, 2013.

How does one make sense of nature’s madness?
Disasters like tornados destroys lives causing sadness
In an instant, everything that once stood is now gone
Leaving many feeling weary and withdrawn
Like dark clouds, death hovers over bare land
Many loved ones disappear in the air like sand
Teardrops fall hitting the piled rubble ground
Cries echo producing an eerie sound
Relief efforts are quickly underway
Offering hope that all will be okay
Storm so horrific, many can’t believe it’s true
Prayers are sent as we stand by you

Friday, May 17, 2013

Life After Sandy Through My Eyes: Part II

Wednesday, May 8, 2013: The Action Center of Far Rockaway and Team Leadership

I team led a group of volunteers to the Action Center in Far Rockaway, Queens.  This is through New York Cares. I never team led volunteers before and was nervous at first. Once my team arrived, I didn’t feel nervous anymore. They were personable and have volunteered at the Action Center previously. “And to think I had my team leader speech all prepared!” I said to them as we laughed. Once the driver came, we got in the van and headed out. There was a lot of traffic and it took us about an hour to get to the Center.  We met one of the volunteers who have been volunteering at the Center since Sandy hit. I met the staff. I still didn’t see the nurse who helped me when I fell in January. I hope to see her again so I can thank her in person. We distributed sandwiches and dried goods. They went fast. The Center has pulled back on its operations due to a lack of donations and volunteers. They operate twice a week as opposed to seven days. I hope these efforts will continue, because many residents still need help. We stayed for three hours and headed back to the city. I thanked my group on a job well done. They thanked me for team leading. I will definitely do this again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013: The American Red Cross and Field Client Casework

I participated in the American Red Cross staffing event, which consisted of client casework done in the field. This is a first for me since I’ve only experienced in-office casework. It was also the first time working with volunteers with their Emergency Communications Center (ECC). The ECC is where responders are dispatched when local disasters arise. Responders from the ECC conduct damage assessment and field casework. It felt great being there. I also had a chance to wear the Red Cross jacket, something I’ve wanted to do since volunteering with them. Like a child, I smiled in awe when I put it on. I felt empowered and a sense of belonging. I know my purpose, more now than before and it feels wonderful!

I, along with two other volunteers headed to Queens to deliver cash assistance cards to clients affected by hurricane Sandy. We went to several hotels where clients are staying temporarily. The task was simple, completing paperwork for the client, but listening to their hardship was emotionally difficult. Six months after Sandy and people are still without a home. They struggle everyday to take care of themselves and their families. Most of these clients had children, which makes it even more heartbreaking. I had the pleasure of saying hello to a baby girl who wasn’t aware of our purpose being there. She just smiled and waved at us. That made me smile. I felt moved by the thumbs up we received from people passing by or hotel staff.  Talking with the clients made me realize that we aren’t that different. Their situation isn’t so unique; it’s definitely relatable. What they’re going through could easily be me. It bothered me that I couldn’t answer all their questions. I felt helpless despite their kind words of “its okay,” or “Thank you for just being here.”

We were able to distribute cards to all our clients. I watched the sunset and the moonrise during our trip. We crossed many highways, passing by areas of Queens I used to visit. Going back, I saw the Manhattan skyline lit up. It was beautiful. I reflected on the evening and felt accomplished. I prayed for the clients we met, and for so many who are still struggling. I’m grateful I had this opportunity to do something I enjoy, casework and most importantly, helping people.  

Life After Sandy Through My Eyes: Part I

Monday, May 6, 2013: South Street Seaport

I have wanted to see the Seaport since hurricane Sandy hit NYC six months ago. I still cannot believe it has been six months already. Once I got off at the newly renovated Fulton Street station and saw the new World Trade Center, I could feel a difference. As I approached the Seaport, there were barricades and construction equipment everywhere. My favorite clothing store, Rainbow is closed.  This wasn’t a good sign. As I walked, closer to the now gated up hub for shops and restaurants, more stores have locks and boards with signs saying “Due to Hurricane Sandy…”  It felt like a ghost town. Even the cobblestone didn’t feel the same. Few people were out, mostly tourists taking pictures. Fulton Market has gates around it. The restaurants that used to generate a lot of people are gone. I took pictures but the more I snapped, the worst I felt.  

The mall was empty. Some people sat on the benches talking with others while some pointed at stores with hardly anyone in them. The booths that sold jewelry and other novelties are closed. I saw one open with a man standing by looking at his cell phone. Each floor was like this, even the food court on the top floor. I walked through it observing the empty chairs and tables. Bars and small eateries are closed. Some stores like Subways are still in business. I went outside where I usually go to reflect. The wood had splits in it and the chairs and benches looked weathered. I stood by the railing and looked across at Brooklyn Bridge Park. How tiny it looks from the Seaport! The weather was nice, sunny with a cool breeze. I eventually sat at one of those reclined seats, turn on my music, and began to reflect. Looking at the Brooklyn Bridge, I tried to imagine how it must have looked when Sandy hit. I still can’t imagine how high the water rose leaving the Seaport practically under water. I also reflected on the many experiences I had at the Seaport. The times I reflected, went on dates, ate at the local restaurants, bought seashells, and took pictures all done at the Seaport. I always remembered how busy it was especially during the summer season. To see it so empty now was overwhelming but understandable. When I looked again, I was the only one sitting there. It was 5pm. I knew it was time for me to leave.

Before I left, I went to my favorite candy store. I love their “jelly bellies” and caramels. I grew up liking caramels from my grandmother who loved eating them. The owner and I were the only ones in the store. I started talking to him asking about business since Sandy. What he told me was startling. Stores like his will close by the end of the year. Plans to revamp the Seaport are in the works. He told me they’re looking at retail spaces now.  When I asked him how business been since Sandy, he said, “Not good.” 
As I left, I felt sad. I can’t imagine the Seaport without the small businesses. The small businesses make the Seaport what it is.  I walked towards the gate by Fulton Market and looked through it. “What will become of the Seaport in the near future?” I thought to myself. I don’t think the Seaport will ever be the same again thanks to Sandy, and that’s not a good thing.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Continue to have will
Despite current standstill
Contemplate on tomorrow
Smiling hides inner sorrow
Determined spirit must fight
Through darkness into light
Wake up to a new day
Chance to find a better way

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sitting at the desk

Four in the morning breeze
Music puts mind at ease
Swivel in the chair under dim light
Enjoy the peacefulness of late night

Thoughts roam, some leaving the present
Remembering things that should stay distant
Evokes emotions of what was or could’ve been
The efforts made would never be a win

Poetry, the voice of my voiceless heart
A beautiful form of intimate art!

Re-read the love poems of yesterday
If read again what would he say?
Doubt it would be something special
Probably just a page full of babble

Music stops, a sense of sorrow
Birds chirp from outside the window
The breeze passed, sun begins to rise
Ready to close these eyes

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Transit public hearing, journalistic feeling

Walk into the building proudly
Able to pass through security
Find a seat, recorder in hand
Watch speakers take their stand

Transit public hearing
A journalistic feeling

Proposals set, some are glad
Begin writing on notepad
New bus, new improvements
Communities make their judgments

Everyone takes a turn to speak
Board reps listen to critique
Lady whispers to her neighbor
 Man in front takes a picture

Annoyed resident yells “Huh!”
News reporter captures all on camera
Another speaker reads letter, offers insight
A man looks at my scribble handwrite

Questions, comments, and mixed emotions
Many worry this will cost them millions
Hearing now goes into recess
Written materials available for public access

Stop the recorder, pack my bag
Go through the crowd in a zigzag
Talk to transit rep, make a suggestion
Current situation calls for action

While leaving, reps say good night
Can’t wait to go home and write
Enjoy attending transit public hearing
Feel like a reporter in training

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Don't stop believing

Don’t stop believing
Keep on achieving
When doubt makes you feel blue
Cast it aside and do you

Let the haters hate
Be motivated, don’t become their bait
Step forward, walk with pride
Stand tall and be your own guide

Always try your best
Life is a constant test
Never stop believing
The journey is humbling