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Monday, November 5, 2012

Roosevelt Island Residents Donate And Deliver Necessities To People Living In Rockaways Devastated By Hurricane Sandy - RI Volunteers Helped And Made A Difference In Some LIves

Image of Roosevelt Islanders Collecting Donations For Rockaways From Karine Wong

A call was put out last Saturday by Roosevelt Island residents Tim & Karine Wong to donate items for distribution to people living in the Rockaways devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The Wong's update us on what happened:
If you ever had any doubt that you could make a difference in the world, just look at the pictures... (many more are coming in the next few days)

Image of Roosevelt Islanders Collecting Donations For Rockaways From Olya Turcihin

Image of Roosevelt Islanders Collecting Donations For Rockaways from Karine Wong

Watching the late local news Friday night and decided to send out an email to see if we could get some people to join the following morning, collect what we could and go and find some people in need…

We went Saturday with a single car of water, food and clothes into a neighborhood in the Rockaways area – part of Queens – that was really hard hit. Everyone flooded. Everyone without power. Everyone wondering why it will take weeks for any changes to occur. A lot of people are out of their homes, without power, trying to figure out what move to make next, all sorts of different situations… Some of these people have some sort of “means",  network, or back up plan. The place that we went to Saturday is different because it is clear that those living in this area do not have the means, network or any back up at all. These are people who cannot go to a local restaurant to eat when the power is out – even if there was one available.

Not a lot of cars in this area – even if there were – there is no fuel. The power is out for a several mile stretch. No stores. No gas stations. No businesses of any kind in operation. The closest area with power is JFK airport. It is several miles to walk to get to the other side of the airport before you even begin to see any areas where there is the hope of finding an open store.

So we pull up to the publicized location of a NYC food distribution center. We walk up to the people at the head of the line (there were about 50 people there at the time) and we asked if this was the spot for food distribution.

They said yes, and that if we needed something we better get in line now cause the distribution center staff arrive around noon and get set up for distributions starting at 1pm. The people there told us that in an hour or so the line would be 4 or 5 blocks long. It was 930am.

Image of Rockaway Food Distribution From Olya Turcihin

We got in our car, pulled up to the front of the line, opened the back and said, can you help us unload what we have to share… everyone joined in, helped out and shared what was there… a couple of teenagers passed on food and asked if we had any blankets… They all said thanks and we drove home.

We went back on Sunday.

Saturday, lots and lots of emails came in. People from all over met on Roosevelt Island and put together 4 very full vans of water, food, and necessities plus an additional 16 passenger van + trailer just full of clothes. We spent about 4 hours helping distribute what we had collected.

The result of word of mouth, emails, Facebook, Twitter, blogging - all connected to the Roosevelt Island community. The people from many Island businesses, plus the 30+ people who came out at 8am to help and the other 30 or so families that sent items - all contributed to make this possible. Not one monumental effort by one person, no Bill Gates or Warren Buffet here... Instead, incremental movement by a community.

Images By Olya Turcihin

The point is that even a small gesture or the smallest effort can make a difference… Nothing is too small. Any constructive activity can make a difference. Not making any attempt defines failure. It makes more sense to make an effort and define humanity.

It started with one note on Friday night. So, spread the word, everyone can find a way to help out and there are lots of different avenues to lend a hand…just find one…

There were a lot of smiles, a lot of thank you’s, and even a couple of people dispensing hugs of thanks to the many volunteers who ended up on this Rockaway corner.

None of this would be possible without the effort and interest of so many people. People who came with items to give away, people who found items in their homes that they could share, people who asked what made the most sense and then went out and got it, the people who drove from Queens with stuff that they wanted to contribute, the people who came on the F train from Manhattan to give what they had…the community around Roosevelt Island

Only about 15 miles from Roosevelt Island it seems like a whole world away.

Images From Karine Wong

Yet, the common ground was that of need, caring and ability to help. Everyone should know that the people helped today genuinely appreciate the fact that someone thought to care enough to come out there…as it is certainly a place on the lower levels of the priority list.

Tim & Karine WONG
Lynn Marfrey shares some scenes from the wreckage in the Rockaways

Images From Lynn Marfrey

and reports:
Thanks to everyone for quickly stepping in and making a difference! In case you are not able to see where the donations are going I have attached a pdf with a glimpse of what the Rockaways look like.

I wish I took more pictures but I think I was too stunned to even click the shutter!

I’m sure Roosevelt Island has already made a difference and our efforts should still continue!


rilander said...

When I brought a few things to my doorstation to leave for Kristen Towey, who was bringing them to you, I had no idea how fabulous this effort had become in only a few hours. I am so proud of my neighbors for organizing this drive!

Josie said...

Its wonderful to be able to do something to help. Please keep us informed on any on-going plans!

Elizabeth Durkin said...

This is amazing and so touched my heart and soul and not surprised that this great community of ours would do this- Bravo!!

YetAnotherRIer said...

Now, THAT I am 100% behind. Good job and a big kudos to everybody who got this organized and going.

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