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Volunteers for Elderly Sandy Victims

$275 of $400 goal

Raised by 7 people in 71 months
I need help getting volunteers to a remote area in Queens to continue to advocate and bring clothing and wellness donations for elderly evacuees still living in shelter, two months after the storm.  Your donation will cover MetroCards, gas for ride shares, and LIRR train tickets for volunteers. 

SHELTER #1

Following Hurricane Sandy, the residents of Bell Harbor Manor, a 162- patient assisted-living facility that was decimated by flooding and subsequent looting that occurred in the neighborhood of Far Rockaway, Queens, became refugees, unable to return home.  The residents, all of whom have special medical or mental health needs and had to be rescued in waist-high mud, seawater and raw sewage two days after Sandy hit, were moved into a temporary medical shelter at the Park Slope Armory where their care, primarily from volunteers supporting The American Red Cross, DMAT, the Department of Health and AmeriCorps, and facilitated by Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, aided their most immediate needs. In addition to scores of civilian volunteers converging on the Armory which made an enormously positive and imperative impact on the then-500 evacuees, wellness programs were initiated and included showing movies, musicians coming in for concerts and sing-alongs, writing workshops, arts and crafts, and service animals were put into place, and the benefits of these efforts - in addition to seeing the friendly faces of volunteers who established relationships with evacuees - considerably eased the trauma of Sandy's aftermath.

SHELTER #2

Three weeks after the storm and sleeping on cots in rows of 20 at the Armory, Belle Harbor Manor Residents were then moved to temporary housing at the Kings Hotel in East New York, a facility that was not designed to accommodate this type of resident where they again slept on Army cots, four residents to a room, and did not have bars on bathtubs, mirrors in bathrooms, or closets or dressers to store black garbage bags full of donated clothing they obtained at the Armory (which is now all they possess). There was only one elevator to shuttle nearly 200 residents among four floors, many of whom rely on wheelchairs and walkers.  Belle Harbor Manor staff was not granted access to either shelter as, it was revealed, they were not licensed.  Getting volunteers to visit Park Slope was a breeze.  The dangerous nature and the location of the Kings Hotel in East New York dissuaded volunteers from visiting there, and our numbers severely decreased.   At Kings Hotel we were able to continue wellness programs, make calls on their behalf to get things like newspapers delivered to the shelter, helping them make phone calls with our personal phones, assist with meal distribution and conduct needs assessments to replace items that the Kings Hotel laundry service lost.

SHELTER #3
After another three weeks in shelter at the Kings Hotel, the State of NY decided to move the residents again, this time to the Milestone Residence located on the Creedmor Psychiatric Campus in Queens Village, accessible only by bus or car.  Now residing alongside a mixed population of severely mentally disturbed Milestone residents and with volunteers no longer allowed the same level of access to assist with their needs (Milestone is a NY State owned and operated facility managed by ICL), the mental health and wellness of Belle Harbor Manor seniors is gravely compromised.  Volunteers assisting with the registration of FEMA claims, contacting and reconnecting residents with family members, wellness programs (art, music, discussions, etc) as well as clothing and donation distribution must be limited to one public room in the facility.  The atmosphere is strict and institutional, and this is affecting the mental health of all, even those who have no prior mental health issues.  Please keep in mind that many, if not most of these residents do not have any family of their own. The relationships between residents and core volunteers developed over the last 60 days is one of the most important healing tools available to this incredibly vulnerable and fragile population.  As of January 8th, 2013 it is unknown when Belle Harbor Manor residents will be able to return home as their facility continues to fail inspections.

To understand the impact and importance volunteers have had on this population of evacuees, please read this letter (written during one of the writing workshops) from Belle Harbor Manor resident Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler and published by the New York Times.

Recent press about their situation, which is echoed throughout other shelters housing this population of NYC residents, can be found in both of these AP stories.

December 26, 2012 - "Grim Limbo for NYC Elderly Evacuees", The Associated Press

January 4, 2013 - "NY Homes for Elderly Under Scrutiny", The Associated Press

Thank you!


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This is a shrub at Belle Harbor Manor, just to give you an idea of the force and height of the surge.
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This is the current state of Belle Harbor Manor when I visited the facility yesterday. These folks will be living in shelter for at LEAST another two months.
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Last night I filed a FEMA claim for this resident, Ellie, and today we're going to make the third (and hopefully final) move while she and about 100 others are still living in shelter. THANKS to all who have been so generous and supportive so far! It's giving me the energy to keep fighting for the wellness and quality of life of these incredible people.
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This has been an intense few days of another pending move for these people, and I am so touched by your donations! Thank you for caring about these folks as much as I and the other volunteers do. Some who were here out-of-state from Red Cross and assigned to the Armory are coming back from Atlanta and North Carolina for a visit, and they too thank you.
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$275 of $400 goal

Raised by 7 people in 71 months
Created December 8, 2012
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