Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Faces of Service

By Robert Juarbe, American Red Cross in Greater New York

In an effort led by New York City, the American Red Cross in Greater New York has partnered with City agencies and community organizations at a Service Center in the East Harlem to assist with the short and long-term needs of hurricane-affected families arriving in NYC.

The Red Cross has been present at the Center (1680 Lexington Ave) since it first opened on October 19, 2017. Here are some of the dedicated volunteers who have been working tirelessly to help.

Betsy Tirado - New York, N.Y.

Betsy Tirado, a nurse, has been volunteering with the American Red Cross for about twenty years. She has been at the service center providing medical support for evacuees with the assistance of her organization, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).

"I’ve been volunteering for about 20 years. I was heavily involved in 9/11, then I stopped for family and my personal job. Then again, I went back. Whenever I have the free time and am able to help out, I’m out there!" Betsy said.

"I also belong to NAHN. I recruited the NAHN members to come [here]… I recruited them to help and be here. Many of our clients speak English, but many do not and they are very stressed, they just went through an incredible event. They don’t have a place to stay, everything is up in the air. What they knew as normal yesterday is not necessarily normal today. They’re in a place that is outside of their comfort zone. Their language and needs are different and they have great needs. We need to be out there and help them out."

Sara Cabezas - Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sara Cabezas, a Brooklyn resident, has been volunteering for the Red Cross for 16 years, since 9/11. She has been volunteering at the service center since it first opened on October 19.

"I do a lot of things. Client services, mass care, response. I also help install fire alarms and do data entry at the office. We hand out comfort kits, food, baby food. Speaking Spanish helps."

When asked about why she volunteers for the the Red Cross, Sara responded, "Because I feel it, people need help, I feel it in my heart."

Theresa Rimarachin - Long Island City, N.Y.

Theresa, a resident of Long Island City, has been volunteering for the American Red Cross for a little over a month. This was her fist day volunteering at the Service Center.

“I’ve always wanted to join the Red Cross," she said. "With the hurricanes and everything going on I wanted to be involved and do something instead of just talking about it.”

Jennifer Nerby - New York, N.Y.

Jennifer Nerby, an NYC native, has been volunteering for the American Red Cross for about six months. This was also her first day volunteering at the Service Center.

"I find it really rewarding. It’s a great way to [help] people in the community. The Red Cross is really cool, I like the services they provide. Most people really need what's being provided to them."

Wanda Sutter - Illinois

Wanda Sutter has been volunteering for the American Red Cross in Greater New York for six months and this was her first day at the Service Center. She comes to us all the way from Illinois.

"I wanted to come to New York and experience New York as a New Yorker and I wanted to do service work while I’m here, so I connected with the Red Cross which was a perfect fit for me," Wanda said. "I just enjoy helping people. I wanted to go on deployments and help during disasters. There’s not always an opportunity for deployment and so I got involved doing other things. There’s just so many things to do at the Red Cross and I’ve been busy for the months that I’ve been here."

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