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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.  


  1. Thanks for sharing. Sandy seems to have long since been forgotten for many.

  2. You're welcome and thanks so much for reading :) I will do my part in keeping Sandy in the limelight.

  3. God bless you Professor for all that you do and for caring.
    The Red Cross jacket looks good on you. :)