MLKDay of Service: Helping Hurricane Sandy victims get back on their feet.

February 28, 2013

By:  Jennifer Cohn

AmeriCorps VISTA: Youth Programs Development Assistant


AmeriCorps VISTAs Jennifer Cohn, Claudia Wald and staff member Cynthia Seay at the New York Cares Disaster Recovery site in the Rockaways.


Every year on Martin Luther King Day, people all over the country commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in service projects in their communities. It is known as the MLKDay of Service.


For our MLKDay of Service, AAFSC’s AmeriCorps VISTAs and staff member Cynthia Seay volunteered for a Hurricane Sandy Relief Project (provided by New York Cares). Our project took place in the Rockaways, Queens, an area in which the devastating affects of Hurricane Sandy were still palpable over 3 months later. We took part in a “muck out” project where we removed moldy drywall, insulation, and flooring from a home where the ground floor was made uninhabitable by the hurricane.


The homeowners were currently living in the second floor of the home with no heat or running water. Speaking to one of the homeowners, I couldn’t believe that she and her family had spent the past 3 months relying on the goodwill of their neighbors, showering at friends houses and bracing several winter storms with no heat. Unlike most of her neighbors, this homeowner could not afford to have a private construction crew come in and do the work that our volunteer group had completed that day. She and her family had been in a sort of limbo since the storm. We hugged goodbye and she thanked me for the work we had done. At the end of the day, though all the volunteers were a bit tired, sore and dusty, we knew it was nothing compared to what this family had endured and we were happy to know we had done a little to help them on their way to recovery.


Hurricane Sandy recovery work remains far from over. New York Cares continues to provide Sandy Relief Projects almost everyday (in which anyone can participate with no prior muck out experience or training required). Check out their volunteer opportunities here (NYCares Sandy Relief) and do your part to help those affected by Sandy get back on their feet!