Friday, August 2, 2013

"You can be the best thing to happen to somebody on their worst day."

L-R: Giselle Cuen, Jack Porter, Doree Trent, and Julia Kim
by Jamie Dierking

July 31st was the final day for three of four American Red Cross relief and recovery volunteers—Jack Porter, Doree Trent, and Julia Kim—who were bringing help and hope to Sandy-affected residents in New York. A fourth worker, Giselle Cuen, is staying on until the end of August.

Here are their stories.

Giselle Cuen of San Diego, Calif., volunteered to provide disaster health services in a Red Cross shelter for two weeks in November. Cuen returned to New York City in February to work in case management, helping people affected by Sandy; she will stay until the end of August. “Being able to help people is great,” Cuen said. “It feels really good.”

Jack Porter of Dothan, La., arrived in November to begin a month of on-the-ground relief work, helping feed people affected by Sandy. His shift completed, Porter flew home to Louisiana. Mere days later, he returned to New York to begin volunteering again, primarily helping people affected by Sandy learn how to access Red Cross assistance and how to proceed on their road to recovery. “You can be the best thing to happen to somebody on their worst day,” Porter said. “I do this because I love it.”

Doree Trent of Tulsa, Okla., spent seven and a half months helping people affected by Sandy. She arrived just days after Sandy made landfall and began overseeing all Red Cross shelters in New York State. She returned home to Oklahoma in mid-January, but returned to New York in March to help manage cases of people affected by Sandy. “Being retired military, I’m very patriotic and I believe in serving my country," Trent said. "In the military I was stationed overseas and my mother passed away. The Red Cross paid for my flight back to the mainland. They helped me out a lot.”

Julia Kim of Lathrop, Calif., arrived in New York City in early November and has spent nine continuous months working in Sandy case management, helping connect people with Red Cross resources and assistance. “Getting to know some of the families, I wanted to see [their stories] from beginning to end and have some closure,” Kim said.

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