Posts Tagged ‘New Dorp’

Going door to door, tent to shed, to serve those still suffering from Superstorm Sandy.

Friday, July 26th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Although nine months have passed since Hurricane Sandy pushed ocean waves down the streets of Staten Island’s Midland Beach, upending cars, flooding homes and destroying nearly everything in its wake, some residents of this seaside community still live in makeshift tents and sheds.  Some even sleep on park benches.

Many still need assistance with basic needs such as food and shelter. This includes children, the elderly, and new immigrants. Nine months into this disaster and many believe they have nowhere to turn for help.

A number of local volunteer organizations have been created or expanded to address these needs. “Every night a volunteer goes out in search of those still in need of a meal and a place to sleep,” says Catholic Charities Community Development Coordinator Lourdes Ferrer.

Over three hundred Sandy survivors already receive support from Catholic Charities disaster case managers stationed at Catholic Charities’ office at 120 Anderson Avenue in Staten Island. But rather than just waiting for Sandy survivors to come to Catholic Charities, disaster case managers also go to them.

Catholic Charities manages the New York State Disaster Case Management Program. Designed to streamline support and avoid frustration and confusion, the Disaster Case Management program whittles down the complex system of disaster support by providing survivors with a single point of contact to access a broad range of resources. This allows people still reeling from the loss of jobs and homes to avoid the need to search out multiple organizations that might respond to their various needs. Instead, survivors can relate their experiences and submit their documentation to a single, local disaster case manager who guides them through the recovery process.

Many residents of Staten Island never before had to ask for social service help and were unsure of the value of these services.  They initially hoped they could do everything themselves.

So Catholic Charities teamed up with local “hubs,” ad hoc service centers that sprang up in neighborhoods hit hardest by the hurricane to provide food, water, clothing, supplies and services, educate the community and reach more of those in need.   Case managers from Catholic Charities now help staff the Staten Island Alliance office on Colony Ave, enrolling many new clients into the program and meeting with existing clients.  Case managers are also able to meet with clients in their homes.  To extend these services, Catholic Charities disaster case managers are preparing to staff another hub in the New Dorp neighborhood in Staten Island. By meeting staff at home, in local hubs and Catholic Charities offices, hurricane survivors can feel comfortable in familiar surroundings close to home among people they know.

“People think that because so many months have passed, that everything is back to ‘normal’,” Lourdes said. “But the reality is there are communities in Staten Island that are still recovering and struggling to accept the new ‘normal’.”

Waves Pounded the Block as Roseann Harris and Her Children Escaped Hurricane Sandy.

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

Waves of water pounded down both ends of the block when Roseann Harris, and her children, Richard, Robert and Rachel, floored the gas pedal on their cars to make their escape from Hurricane Sandy.  When they returned the next day, they found their once-cozy, blue-sided home in to New Dorp, Staten Island ravaged by the super storm.  Their son’s bedroom, family room, and laundry room in their once-finished basement were submerged from floor to ceiling.  The force of the rapids turned over their washing machine.  Walls were ripped off and windows broken. Ceiling tiles floated alongside baby photos and grandma’s china.  Along the street, ocean reeds a half-foot deep mingled with garbage and memories.

“I went to St. Charles Church on Sunday and heard Monsignor read the names of people who died during the storm,” Ms. Harris recalled, “and I said ‘I’m okay.  I’m okay.’  My children are here.  My house is destroyed but we can rebuild.”

And rebuild, thanks to friends, family, and volunteers from her sons’ high school, St. Joseph by-the-Sea, is what they are doing.  Within a half hour of learning what happened to the Harris home, football players from her sons’ past and present high school teams showed up with coaches, a generator, gas, clean water and tools.  They gutted the basement and began to rebuild.

“Our church always says we’re family,” Ms. Harris said.  “It’s more than just words.  It’s action.”

Day Laborers help Hurricane Sandy Victims

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Alice Kenny

Fifteen volunteers from Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities, accompanied Catholic Charities staff on Sunday, November 18, to help people in the New Dorp neighborhood in a Staten Island whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  Donning work gloves and masks they responded to requests, moving from house to house to break down walls, remove crumbling sheet rock and pull out destroyed furniture.

Catholic Charities has an ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area. Through this program, Catholic Charities educates workers on employment rights and responsibilities in order to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.