|American Red Cross Volunteers, Sandy and Joe French help with feeding hot meals and delivering supplies using the emergency response vehicle in the Rockaway Beach area of New York on 12/28/12.(Mason Rankin photo, ARC)
Cold temperatures and snowy conditions may have arrived in much of the Northeast, but that has not deterred the dedication and compassion of Sandy and Joe French, Red Cross volunteers from Modesto, CA.
“We’ve been here in New York for the past eight days, working through the holiday. We’ve been volunteering with the Red Cross for the past eight years,” said Sandy French. “We got married just so we could go out on deployments together,” joked Joe, cracking a smile.
Out in the battered, seaside Rockaways, their spirits and energy levels were high as they drove the Red Cross emergency response vehicle (ERV) on their now familiar and daily mobile feeding route.
As the French’s maneuvered the streets distributing hot meals, bottles of water, and household supplies, they talked with some of the residents that they’ve gotten to know in a short time. They’ve also been checking to find out who has heat in their homes and have been distributing brochures telling people where to get food, supplies and emotional support.
“Just the other day, we gave out about 100 knit hats, so people could stay a little bit warmer,” said Sandy French. The French’s have a friend back in California associated with a local nonprofit agency. The agency had a knitting drive and collected homemade hats for men, women and children. When the group learned that the French’s were coming to work on Red Cross Sandy relief efforts, they sent the hats along with them to give to New Yorkers.
The Red Cross disaster relief effort has now transitioned into the recovery phase with government and community partners. This includes an active collaborative effort among the Red Cross, FEMA, state and local government agencies, as well as community organizations, to provide long-term recovery resources. The key is for residents in communities affected by Sandy to know where to go and how to get future resources to rebuild their lives.
For information on updated feeding/recovery efforts in NY, please visit www.nyredcross.org.