More than 250 American Red Cross volunteers gathered for a celebratory brunch March 23 at Battery Gardens Restaurant, a lower Manhattan venue with panoramic views of New York harbor.
Luis Avila, Greater New York regional chief response officer, kicked off the event by thanking the volunteers for their commitment to the Red Cross and their community.
“Since Sandy hit, we’ve responded to more than 900 emergencies in New York City and helped close to 4,000 people affected by those emergencies. That’s amazing,” Avila said.
Josh Lockwood, Greater New York Red Cross regional CEO, echoed Avilia’s praise, making special mention of volunteers’ selfless work during Sandy relief and recovery efforts and beyond.
“You have my heartfelt thanks for your extraordinary support,” he said. “After Sandy, and the nor’easter that followed, and February’s winter storm, you did what you had to do without a thought for yourselves: You brought smiles to tens of thousands of people in their darkest hours; you have been unstinting in your dedication to our mission and neighbors in need.”
Lockwood also recognized members of Greater New York Ready When the Time Comes corporate partners who attended, including Blackrock, Blue Cross Blue Shield, BNY Mellon, Citi Group, Colgate Palmolive, Grainger, JetBlue, Marsh & McLennan, Morgan Stanley, Port Authority and Zurich. (The Ready When the Time Comes volunteer program trains people from corporations and community-based groups to mobilize to help the Red Cross when disaster strikes.)
Volunteers from community partners Church of God of East Flatbush, L.A.C.A., Victory Seventh Day Adventist Church, MIRA USA, HOPEworldwide and the Cadet Response Group also received special recognition for their tireless work during Sandy, as did members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team, or D.A.R.T. These are retired FDNY members who volunteer with the Red Cross, and worked as part of the Red Cross logistics team on Long Island after Sandy struck.
Greater New York board member Heather Goodchild also offered her thanks to volunteers for their hard work year-round, as did Manhattan resident Miguelina Jaquez, who received help from the Red Cross after a fire destroyed her apartment in January.
Emily Ramirez from the Brooklyn Technical High School Red Cross Club represented Youth Club members in New York City.
“I volunteer because I see the Red Cross not only in disaster support but in our neighborhoods hosting blood drives, preparing our community and much more,” she said.
Anthony DeRiggs, facilities manager at Greater New York Red Cross regional headquarters in Manhattan, read a poem he wrote expressly for the volunteers, and Eapen Leubner, a five year Greater New York employee and up-and-coming opera singer, performed “Una furtiva lagrima” (A Furtive Tear) from Donizetti’s “L'Elisir d'Amore” (Elixir of Love) and later, “New York, New York.”
The Red Cross wishes to thank the corporate donors who contributed to the event gift bags: BNP Paribas, Brooks Brothers, JetBlue and Warner Music, as well as New York’s Tea & Jam bakery, which donated 250 grain-free muffins (a.k.a. “misfits”) for this event. Tea & Jam has pledged to donate 10 percent of its April sales to the Red Cross. To order, visit http://teanjam.com/misfit-menu/ and enter the code REDCROSS at checkout.