Events like the UN General Assembly this week and the pope’s historic visit to Manhattan remind us of just how global our great City is. As representatives in NYC of a humanitarian network that operates in nearly every country on the planet, the Greater NY Red Cross embodies this spirit. At times they do so by extending a helping hand to fellow Red Cross (or Red Crescent) colleagues around the world. This was the case these past few months when four Red Cross staff members from New York City were given the unique opportunity to represent the Greater NY Region overseas.
Alex Resnick, Greater New York’s Regional Manager of Mass Care, traveled to the small South Pacific island (and U.S. Territory) of Saipan in early August to support the Red Cross relief effort following a devastating typhoon that left thousands homeless.
“I’m proud that I was able to deploy where help was needed most,” said Resnick. “I learned how committed our Red Cross workforce is, and how passionate Red Cross volunteers are.”
While in Saipan, Resnick worked as the Bulk Distribution Manager and oversaw a team of Red Cross staff from the mainland and 40 youth volunteers from Saipan, ranging in age from 12 to 20 years of age. Together, they distributed more than 80,000 vital emergency relief supplies to those affected by the typhoon.
Anna-Kay Ellis, former Red Cross Americorps member and current volunteer, left for Saipan a few days after Resnick. As a case manager she was part of a team that counseled nearly 3,000 individuals left homeless by the storm.
Ellis recalls meeting one of those individuals, a mother whose home had been flattened by the typhoon.
“She tried really hard to hold in her tears, she was just so grateful,” said Ellis. “I could see that she wanted to cry. I could see how devastated they were. I could feel how proud she was, and at the same time how vulnerable she was.”
Less than two months earlier, Michael de Vulpillieres, Communications Officer for the Greater New York Region began a deployment that would prove just as rewarding. De Vulpillieres traveled to Haiti in early June to support the local office in Port-au-Prince and to learn more about Red Cross work there. During his three weeks in Haiti, de Vulpillieres visited some of the areas of the capital city most affected by the 2010 quake.
“To see the passion with which the Red Cross team in Haiti carry out our mission was remarkable,” said de Vulpillieres. “Nearly everywhere I went in Port-au-Prince I saw the impact of Red Cross services.”
On May 18, 2015, weeks after a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, Regional Director of Planning, Readiness and Situational Awareness Raul Rivera Nunez was asked to lend his skills and expertise to the global Red Cross response to this catastrophic event.
Prior to the earthquake, Raul Rivera-Nunez represented the Greater NY Region at international relief operations in Haiti in 2011 and in the Philippines two years later.
For five weeks in the heavily-impacted Gorkha District of Nepal, Rivera-Nunez helped develop and execute a plan to distribute tens of thousands of lifesaving relief supplies to local families.
“I wanted to help these people who were suffering tremendous loss,” said Rivera-Nunez “and represent the American Red Cross and the American people.”
While experiences and destinations of these four individuals varied greatly, one theme was consistent for each—regardless of where you’re from, or what language you speak, the Red Cross mission knows no borders.
“On the ground in Nepal there were Red Crossers from all over the world helping,” said Rivera-Nunez. “But it did not matter where we’re from, we’re part of the same Red Cross family working towards the same goal.”