NYCHA Employees Volunteer to Bring Relief to Sandy-Impacted Residents
“Good morning, Housing calling.” This greeting resounded throughout Red Hook East and Red Hook West Houses on Nov. 13, as New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) employees continue to help residents who are recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. This latest door-to-door volunteer effort drew 200 NYCHA employees who checked on every resident in NYCHA’s Red Hook Houses complex, which consists of 2,878 apartments. The volunteers were divided into 28 teams that each included a social worker, a nurse from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), an experienced NYCHA Family Services Department employee, and others with multi-lingual abilities.
Helping Those in Need
NYCHA employee-volunteers at Red Hook Houses after Hurricane Sandy. (PETE MIKOLESKI/NYCHA)
NYCHA employee-volunteers performed a host of assessments on the needs of residents who have been without essential services since Hurricane Sandy ravaged their neighborhood. Following the assessment, six NYCHA residents were transported to a hospital for medical treatment; food, water and blankets were delivered to 256 families; nurses from VNSNY provided medical attention to 121 household members; and 44 NYCHA residents received prescription refill deliveries thanks to the coordination of NYCHA and VNSNY physicians.
NYCHA residents were overwhelmingly grateful for the concern and assistance provided by the NYCHA employee-volunteers and volunteers were equally grateful to be able to help. “I lost everything myself so I wanted to help others,” said NYCHA Director of the Soundview Senior Center, Dennis Kandell, who lives in the Bronx. Another NYCHA employee, Susan Howell, a trainer in NYCHA’s Human Resources Department, who had once been a Property Manager at Red Hook East said, “It was hurting me not to help and now I can.”
NYCHA employee-volunteers receiving instructions before going to Red Hook Houses for Hurricane Sandy efforts. (PETE MIKOLESKI/NYCHA)
Responding to the knock on her door, Red Hook Houses resident, Miranda Reeves told NYCHA employees that while she was anxious for light to be restored, her two-year-old son, who was suffering from congestion, was returning home from staying with a relative later that day. NYCHA Social Worker Sandra Wynters quickly noted to arrange for a follow-up medical visit to their apartment so the child would not have to go outside in the cold to a medical center. Ms. Wynters also provided other resources and a status update on service restoration to help this family. “It’s great to see people here,” Ms. Reeves said. She was relieved to learn that power was expected to be restored later that day.
At another Red Hook Houses building, NYCHA residents Vilma and Justo Rivera were pleased to see the NYCHA employee-volunteer teams going door-to-door. “I like employees being here to help because it shows they care,” said Mr. Rivera. “They also came after the hurricane to give out flashlights.”
An Ongoing Effort
“Even before this [door-to-door volunteer] effort was formally organized, [NYCHA] staff that was displaced from their normal work location came here to help, going door-to-door for food distribution and other assistance,” said Tasha Smith, who has been Property Manager at Red Hook West for nine years.
Noting that she did not go home until the first temporary boiler was installed; Ms. Smith praised her staff who, like herself, had worked 12-14 hour shifts since the emergency began. “I am very grateful on behalf of residents and staff to see the outpouring of concern for residents from today’s volunteers,” she said. “It shows that this isn’t only a place to work but a home, too. It hurts to see the damage here but we must be strong for staff and residents alike.”