November 7, 2012
In the days following Hurricane Sandy, NYU Silver School of Social Work faculty and students have volunteered their time and efforts in many ways as the region starts cleaning up.
Students began their work as Sandy pounded the New York area. Seven undergraduates from NYU Silver are resident assistants. They all stayed in NYU dormitories for the week of October 29, when power and water were out in a large section of the city, including Greenwich Village. These RAs stayed in the dorms, many working 24-hour shifts, even as students left campus.
The Undergraduate Student Government Association has started collecting supplies to be donated to storm victims in affected areas, such as the Rockaways, Staten Island, and Coney Island. The collection is taking place in the Silver School's lobby. Requested items include: canned goods, baby supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, winter items, and work supplies (garbage bags, flashlights, batteries, and work gloves).
Students have been volunteering in Staten Island for several days. They include Beth Diesch, MSW '13, and Roopa Raman, MSW '13, who worked over the weekend of November 3 and 4 in the Oakwood Beach neighborhood. In an email, they wrote that they "were not prepared for the extreme levels of devastation and heartache we found when we arrived." They spent their time in damaged houses, tearing out carpet and insulation and breaking walls by hand.
A day of volunteering in the Midland Beach area of Staten Island is being organized for Friday, November 9. Volunteers will help clean homes, serve hot meals, and offer emotional support to those in need. The day is being organized by Supreet Dhillon, BS '15. To RSVP or for more information, contact Supreet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty are also doing their part in the aftermath of the storm. Associate Professor Carol Tosone has been working in a Staten Island shelter as part of Doctors Without Borders mental health assessment and response team. The shelter evacuees are people without adequate financial resources or social supports. Tosone noted that evacuees felt FEMA had been slow to respond to the crisis. She also worked with shelter staff, offering relaxation sessions as many were working shifts that were 12 hours or longer.
"I was very touched and impressed with the community response: hordes of neighbors lining up to volunteers; so much food that it was being sent to other areas of Staten Island; and a steady stream of clothes, blankets, toys, and toiletries," said Tosone. "This outpouring of community support is the silver lining of the storm."
However, the work in Staten Island, Queens, and other neighboring communities is far from over. Members of the NYU Silver community interested in volunteer opportunities can look on the NYU Silver Disaster Response Facebook page.