Providing Help and Creating Hope One House at a Time

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Damaged homes by Hurricane Sandy on Patterson Avenue Staten Island NYBy Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities volunteers Jim and Deborah Deats know firsthand of the destruction Sandy caused throughout New York.

While Deborah’s house is on a hill in Concord and escaped undamaged, when she witnessed the devastation across the island, she knew she had to do something. Immediately after the storm, she traveled by car to friends and families to offer help.

Deborah said she drove around “giving hugs, smiles, anything we could, just to tell these people that we’re here for them—that there is hope, that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Deborah’s father, Jim Deats, was in Florida at the time of the hurricane, but he drove up as soon as he could to offer help to the community on his native Staten Island. Teaming up with his daughter, he started volunteering with Catholic Charities to clean up houses on the island that had nearly been destroyed in the storm.

Working with Catholic Charities’ Staci Bruce and Damian Buzzerio, along with over 100 generous and devoted volunteers, Jim and Deborah have now cleaned up nine houses. After assessing what work needs to be done, Jim provides instructions for the volunteers, making sure everyone has a specific job. In addition to mucking out the houses, Deborah also visits with the residents and offers emotional support.

“One house at a time, one family at a time, we’ll get through it together,”Deborah said.

To hear more on how Catholic Charities volunteers give hope and strength to people who are rebuilding after Sandy, listen to Deborah and Jim Deats’ conversation with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan on JustLove.

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