It’s not glamorous work, removing sand and debris from Hurricane Sandy affected homes, as well as discarding damaged furniture and appliances, tearing out soggy drywall and insulation, and disinfecting wood surfaces. Nor is muck-out work a task typically carried out by American Red Cross volunteers—whose typical focus is providing for immediate emergency needs like food, shelter and comfort following a disaster.
Yet thanks to the generosity of the American public following the devastating storm, the Red Cross is uniquely positioned to partner with and support other nonprofits and community groups helping Sandy survivors, including New York Cares.
“When Sandy hit, thousands of New Yorkers offered their services to us and were very helpful when it came to delivering relief supplies,” said Josh Lockwood, CEO, American Red Cross Greater New York Region. “Yet as our work shifted from response to recovery, our volunteers wanted to remain engaged in meaningful work—and there is a lot of vital work being carried out by many organizations.”
According to Lockwood, the decision to enlist the help of New York Cares to provide volunteer opportunities was an easy one. Founded 25 years ago, New York Cares runs volunteer programs for 1,200 New York City nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools across the five boroughs. Since Sandy, it has helped New Yorkers with tasks like muck-out, feeding and clothing distribution.
“We continue to provide valuable services to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, and the American Red Cross is stepping up to help us ensure that those projects are fully staffed with volunteers,” said Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares. “We are grateful for the Red Cross’ commitment not just to the immediate response for which it is so respected, but to a full and long-term recovery for New York City.”
Through the partnership, the Red Cross helps fund the work and New York Cares identifies and manages the volunteer events. Between March 1 and May 31, close to 200 volunteers from the Red Cross will have stepped up to work with New York Cares. Among them are many corporate partners of the Red Cross.
“The support of the corporate community has been overwhelming,” said Lockwood. “Not only are companies looking to provide financial contributions, they too want to roll up their sleeves—after all, New York is home and they want to help their neighbors.”
Among them has been the advertising agency BBDO. Its chief executive officer, John Osborn, is a board member of the Greater NY Red Cross. In addition to its employees, BBDO knew that one of its accounts, FedEx, was looking to perform an act of generosity as a way to honor FedEx's 40th anniversary. Together, they recently volunteered in Brooklyn.
“This volunteer effort was a stark reminder of the scale, size and impact of Sandy,” said Osborn. “Our job was to remove the entire frame of a house on Brighton Beach. It was eye-opening that so many people still face unprecedented consequences like mold and rot. Our small contribution was exhausting, but completely gratifying. It was also a reminder that the Red Cross, along with countless volunteers and partners, continues to play a vital role in the efforts to help those displaced by this epic storm."
Other corporate partners have included AOL, Bloomberg, JetBlue, the New York Stock Exchange and Ralph Lauren.
“Sandy was bigger than any one organization and we all have a role to play,” said Lockwood. “It will take time for people to heal, rebuild and recover, but together we bring that day that much closer.”
To learn more about the American Red Cross and its continued response and recovery efforts, visit www.redcross.org/sandy-response.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
About New York Cares:
New York Cares is New York City’s largest volunteer organization. Founded 25 years ago, New York Cares runs volunteer programs for 1,200 New York City nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools across the five boroughs. Last year, 54,000 New York Cares volunteers served on hands-on volunteer projects helping 400,000 New Yorkers in need. New York Cares offers a full range of volunteer programs that meet critical social needs, including helping children learn to read, preparing meals for homeless and housebound people, helping low income students get into college, and much more. For more information, visit newyorkcares.org.