It’s been nearly three months since Hurricane Sandy hit, and the communities most affected are still rebuilding. While much of the city has returned to normalcy, there are many out there who remain homeless, jobless, and sometimes forgotten. The period immediately after the storm was marked by the massive volunteer effort that proved that people power could move more quickly than many private institutions and could certainly move more quickly than federal aid. But recovery from Sandy isn’t over. Volunteers are still needed, and organizational hubs are making a greater effort to make the most efficient use of people’s time and work. Here’s a list of ongoing opportunities to participate in Hurricane Sandy recovery and rebuilding efforts. Just don’t forget to call ahead.
YANA (You Are Never Alone) is a community center whose purpose was to train workers and bring jobs to the Rockaways. They opened their doors just two weeks before Hurricane Sandy hit and have since been rebuilding their base literally from the ground up. During this period of construction, YANA took on the function of a relief site and community hub, offering hot meals, free medical treatment, legal counseling, and housing advocacy. Construction of their foundation was completed on January 11, but the work isn’t done. YANA is now moving on to Phase 2, and they need volunteers. Located on B113th St and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, they’re open Tuesdays through Sundays and could use plenty of volunteers. Just bring work boots and warm clothes.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to your own backyard, the Occupy Sandy Communications and Meeting Space is in Greenpoint and needs help with event planning, communications, and volunteer organizing. They’re open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm, but make sure to contact them to make an appointment first: call 347-770-4520 or email occupysandyvolunteers(at)gmail.com.
The Occupy Sandy Kitchen in Bay Ridge is located at St. John’s Church at 461 99th St by the R train. They’re looking for volunteers every day to prep food and clean up from 8am – 6pm. Ideally, they need about 25 folks a day to help out with this, but they told us if they get more volunteers, they can use them. Conact Tim, Dave, and Kate at sandybayridge(at)interoccupy.net or by leaving a voicemail at 347-465-7430.
Bi- or multilingual people: your help is needed in Sheepshead Bay for canvassing on foot and by phone. Language skills in Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Urdu are very helpful. They need volunteers every day from 10 am – 4pm. Contact Sheryl and Alex at sheepsheadbayrecovers(at)gmail.com or 347-549-9708.
Volunteers who drive their own vehicles can help at the Respond and Rebuild Rockaways location every day except Monday, from 9am – 4pm. Volunteers cannot be accepted after 9:30, but they can accept up to 50 volunteers daily, and can use help on Sundays more than Saturdays. Every weekend they’ll be sending termas out to do mold remediation in residents’ homes. It’s “tough, physical work,” but they’ll provide you with all the safety gear and tools needed. Contact Anday, Shanna, and Gabriel, or sign up and schedule a date online.
Driving is also recommended at the Smallwater Rockaways location, as no regular transportation is provided for volunteers (though it may be accessed by the A train and Q53 bus). Open every day except Monday, Smallwater is accepting volunteers from 10am-2:30pm for clean-out jobs and serving food. The ideal number of volunteers is 10, but groups can be scheduled. Contact Michelle Cortez at volunteer(at)smallwater.org.
The Action Center in Rockaways will be performing supply intake and distribution activities, such as unloading supply trucks, unpacking boxes, organizing supply rooms, and distributing supplies, though the specific tasks will vary per day. Work gloves, boots, and warm winer wear are strongly suggested, as is a car. They can take up to 20 volunteers daily from 10am – 4 pm. Contact Sam (center director) and Nelson (site coordinator).
Staten Island folk: come help out at 1128 Olympia Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 11am – 4pm, and weekends starting at 10am. Come on the earlier side, as 3pm is too late. Volunteers are needed for muck-out work, canvassing, deliveries, and organizing the free store/stock. 10 volunteers needed during the week, and 50 on weekends, when muck-out work is concentrated. They’re organizing work by appointment, so contact Ilya and Goldi at sandy1128olymbia(at)gmail.com or 347-201-0670.