11.17.2012

New Dorp.

Last Sunday I returned to Staten Island for another day of volunteer work. I met two friends bright and early at the Staten Island ferry terminal, and by the time we were at the bus station our group of three had grown to eight. All of us had shown up that morning ready to help in any way we could. We hopped on the bus and took it to Slater Blvd. and Hylan in New Dorp. From there, we walked down to Father Capodanno Boulevard, picked up some masks and work gloves, and set out to find residents in need of our assistance. 
First, we helped George and his family clean out their crawl space area. The crawl space was soaked, only about three feet tall, and stretched several feet back, which required us to take short shifts squatting in the space and pulling out the family's belongings, crumbled sheetrock, and insulation. Physically, it was the hardest work of the day. Once the space was cleared and cleaned, we moved onto the backyard. George is a passionate landscaper, and proudly showed us pictures of his yard before the storm. Fruit trees and bushes lined his property, and a carefully designed sidewalk led to his table and chairs. He told us how he watched the water rush through his yard as the surge hit, and how cars floated on the roof of the gazebo and his deck before the water receded. He is eager and determined to get his yard back into shape. 
Our crew of eight with George and his family. 
After we finished at George's home, we ate a delicious hot lunch provided by a church group from Dallas. The volunteers were amazing, as were their chicken burritos and warm, cinnamon baked apples. 
The destruction around New Dorp is heartbreaking. But, what continues to amaze me is the positivity and hope the community exudes. 
After lunch, we hooked up with a work crew from Maryland who had been volunteering all week in the neighborhood. Sonny, the leader of their team, walked us from home to home and told us what  needed to be completed. We worked at Rubin and Yolanda's house for most of the afternoon. After clearing out their garage space, we tore down all of the walls and insulation. Load after load of material was shoveled and wheeled to the curb for hours as the walls of their home came down. We also cleared out their backyard, along with the neighbors' yard next door. 
My last hour in New Dorp was spent cleaning out the space between two homes on Father Capodanno Boulevard with Magda and Chad, while the rest of our team worked a block away at another home. 
A worker from the Maryland crew, Magda, Chad, Shannon, myself, Sarah, Sonny, Marina, Yigal, and Jennifer after a hard day's work. 
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has opened my eyes to the amazing things that can happen when people come together to do good. The past two weekends, I have had the privilege of working with the most wonderful people, all of whom just showed up to help. I can only hope that people keep showing up. The rebuilding of the communities affected by Sandy has only just begun. 
I will be returning to New Dorp tomorrow (Sunday) to volunteer. If you are in the New York City area and would like to join our group, please email me at daina_ankrum@yahoo.com. The more people we have, the more work we can do.

2 comments :

  1. I love seeing your pictures of volunteering on your blog and on instagram! It's amazing what can be done when people come together. Good for you for helping! I've been out of the blogging loop for a while now and just caught up on your blog...I remember when you were just beginning and now you are 250+ followers! Way to go!

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  2. Wow, this photo documented tour of New Dorp and written post of your experiences volunteering amazes me! It people like you that defines the word hope! We have so many friends out on Long Island that are as equally affected as the people in New Dorp and it's just heartbreaking! You bring new meaning to Thanksgiving! xoxo

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