The College of Staten Island, in collaboration with Councilmember Debi Rose and the Staten Island Board of Realtors, facilitated the opening of the Staten Island Volunteer Coordination Center at 1676 Hylan Boulevard at Cromwell Avenue on the first floor of the Robert DeFalco Realty building.
The coordination center operations, powered by All Hands Volunteers, will provide a centralized location to allow homeowners to learn about the home preparation services available, including free assessment and punchlist review to ensure their homes are “contractor-ready,” and to sign up to receive free volunteer assistance. It also acts as a walk-in center for volunteers to gather, train, and register for team-led volunteer fieldwork. These services are complimentary to and conveniently located near the permanent disaster recovery at 1976 Hylan Boulevard.
Over the coming weeks, All Hands will be sending volunteers into the community, helping families to begin the long clean-up process of their homes. Volunteers will clear out water-logged possessions before removing any damaged drywall, insulation, siding, carpets, and so on. Each group of volunteers will be paired with an experienced team leader who will ensure a safe and productive day. Volunteers do not need any special skills or previous experience; training and leadership will be provided by All Hands.
“This is difficult and dirty work but the rewards are amazing,” noted Jeremy Horan, operations director with All Hands, “there’s nothing like the satisfaction of working side-by-side with other volunteers and local community members and seeing the positive impact you’ve had on a family’s recovery.”
All Hands is a registered 501-C3 disaster response organization that leverages the motivation of volunteers to assist communities in need. Over the last six years, more than 7,000 volunteers have been deployed around the world, providing help to over 30,000 families. Learn more and view video testimonials, including one by a CSI graduate student, at hands.org or vimeo.com/allhands.
Homeowners seeking free volunteer assistance should call the Homeowners Hotline at 347.983.9413, or visit the Staten Island Volunteer Coordination Center at 1676 Hylan Boulevard.
CSI has already referred nearly 200 participants to All Hands to join their real-world practical response solution to disaster response, all of whom have reported an amazing experience. Members of the CSI community who are interested in volunteering for Superstorm Sandy relief are encouraged to contact Carol Brower at 718.982.3088 to become part of Team CSI.
Individual volunteers seeking to participate with the All Hands coordinated and strategic response plan should call 617.901.2545.
The participation of All Hands on Staten Island is a testament to community groups working closely together, and puts the local disaster into an international perspective.
The Reverend Dr. Katie Cumiskey, owner of Bent Pages, faculty member at the College of Staten Island, and interfaith minister, first learned of All Hands from another minister who volunteered with the organization in Peru after the 2007 earthquake there. After Hurricane Sandy, the Director of Field Operations and the U.S. Project Director from All Hands were soon sleeping on her living room floor in anticipation of bringing much-needed assistance to the community.
CSI Interim President Dr. William J. Fritz called a leadership team strategy session to assess the needs of the organization and to provide the strategic networking needed to make the mission of All Hands a reality.
Councilmember Debi Rose’s office was contacted by Ken Iwama, Deputy to the President at CSI. She located a church the same day for All Hands team members to have a place to sleep and prepare their meals.
Sandy Krueger with the Staten Island Board of Realtors was contacted the next morning by Ken Bach, Communications Director at CSI, and by the same evening, an unused storefront was generously provided by Robert DeFalco Realty.
“Many members of our Island and College community have experienced tremendous personal loss due to Hurricane Sandy, and to them I offer my deepest condolences,” commented Dr. Fritz, adding “the realization of this project is a testament to the power of partnerships and the tight-knit family of organizations on Staten Island. I thank the members of the College faculty and staff who helped make this happen and our many community leaders for their leadership and generous support during these difficult times.”
“We all have a responsibility as business owners to give back to our home community. Volunteering can be hard work but the rewards are great,” commented Robert DeFalco, a 1979 CSI graduate with a BS in Economics. “Seeing the happiness on the faces of those we have helped is very satisfying. My agents and staff are always willing to donate their time and money to any Staten Islander in need.”
“The needs that must be addressed in the wake of the destruction of Superstorm Sandy on Staten Island are great. I am appreciative and thankful for the coordination that the All Hands team can provide to our volunteers,” said Councilwoman Debi Rose. “Through the generosity of SIBOR and Robert DeFalco Realty, the All Hands team is now able to provide volunteers and resources to the most devastated areas of Staten Island.”
“Preliminary and very conservative estimates show that nearly 1,500, or eight percent, of the College’s faculty, staff, and students lived directly in the Hurricane Evacuation Zones on Staten Island.” noted Bach. “In addition to providing a much-needed centralized location for homeowners and volunteer resources, the location is also being used as a jumping off point for coordinated CSI outreach and support in the recovery area.”
“As we come together and recover from these devastating events,” added Dr. Fritz, “let us all continue to bring out the best in each other and reach out to help those who may still be in need.”
Additional resources provided by the College of Staten Island include:
- The CSI Foundation Hurricane Relief Fund
- Petrie Emergency Funds for Students
- College Carpool Program
- “Sandy’s Closet” and “Sandy’s Pantry” for members of the CSI community in need of food, clothing, and supplies. Donation bins are located in the Campus Center, Center for the Arts, Sports and Recreation Center, and the Library.
- “Sandy’s Café,” a coordinated, mobile hot food delivery service