I posted some of these pictures on FB along with a kind of rant-y post about making donations to those affected by the storm. I have been trying for a long time to come up with a way to share my volunteer experience in this space and give what I feel is helpful advice to those who read my blog. It's not easy.
There are many many areas of the East Coast that were devastated by the storm, not the least of which is the beautiful coastline of NJ where I spent the summer vacations of my youth. Rockaway Beach, Queens is a place a little bit closer to home these days, and one where both myself and The Man have started to feel like part of the community. We spent many weekends there this summer and he has taken many early morning bus rides to the beach to surf before the sun rises.
Last weekend we were certain that we wanted to devote a day to helping those in need and it was without question that we headed out to Rockaway Beach. The Man has made many friends at The Rockaway Beach Surf Club, where he stores his surf board, and the owners of the club have been spear-heading a volunteer relief effort in area.
What I've learned over the last week is this: there are a lot of communities that have been hit hard, but not hard enough to get the attention of the Red Cross. If you live near one of these places, try to direct your relief efforts as locally as possible. Go to the local fire department or church or synagogue and ask them what they need or what you can do. It's easy to text a donation to the Red Cross and for those of you who live far away that might be the best option for you.
For the rest of you, there is dirty work to be done. Can you give an afternoon to help clean out someones basement? Because that's what people need. They need actual, physical help. The thought of losing all of your belongings in a flood is heart breaking enough without having to shovel out bags of water and sand soaked photo albums and family heirlooms from your basement by yourself.
If you want to donate, people need cleaning supplies (gloves, trash bags, bleach, brooms, shovels), food and, after yesterday, warm, waterproof coats and shoes.
If you want to donate directly to the Rockaway Beach relief effort you can do so at Lavagirlsurf.com. St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn is another location from where Occupy Sandy is sending relief directly to the Rockaways. They are even organizing cars to transport supplies and volunteers.
OK, that's all. Thank you.