In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York Cares deployed tens of thousands of volunteers to the hardest hit neighborhoods. While most of our initial work done in the Rockaways, Coastal Brooklyn, and Staten Island began as distribution and rebuild projects, we continue to offer support to these communities utilizing a more holistic approach.
In an effort to foster these deeper relationships with community members, we were looking for ways to further integrate ourselves into these communities. After working with the Rockaway community post Hurricane Sandy, Jill Moore, Center Director of the Police Athletic League (PAL) - Goldie Maple Academy Beacon, was introduced to us from our friends at the Rockaway Library. The PAL - Goldie Maple Academy Beacon provides youth, teens and adults a broad array of activities. The after school operates on a daily basis for students from Kindergarten to Middle School. Art, dance, homework assistance, life skill lessons, and team sports are just a few of the activities that students can benefit from.
“I was told about a wonderful group of people doing outstanding work in the Rockaways,” said Jill. Looking to broaden programming at PAL - Goldie Maple Academy Beacon and do more to help the children devastated by the storm, Lea Giddins, New York Cares' Queens Recovery Manager, talked with Jill to discuss the services and activities New York Cares could provide to this agency, focusing on programming for younger students, grades 1-2.
In the early spring after Hurricane Sandy, we planned a large corporate party, where volunteers did crafts and played games with kids from PAL - Goldie Maple Academy Beacon. In addition, we began our Play and Read program over the summer. The Play and Read transitioned into our Art Explorers program, where volunteers come in to read with children, act out stories, and do arts and crafts projects. This program now runs weekly.
“We never had enough for the younger kids, grades K-4. Our programs were always geared towards older children,” said Jill. “Through all of the programming the volunteers had tremendous, loving, kind hearts for children. The children took to them so easily. The volunteers brought in snacks for them, provided arts and crafts and supplies.”
We also worked with Jill’s team on Cares Day to clean up the building, brighten the halls with murals, and play games and activities with the kids and community members.
Back into the swing of things for the new school year, we also recently started a Snacktivities program that will alternate with Art Explorers. After Art Explorers had been running for several weeks, we started a Lego Robotics program on Saturdays for the 5th and 6th graders. Lego Robotics will re-start on November 1st.
This is also the second year PAL - Goldie Maple Academy Beacon will be participating in our Winter Wishes program. “The greatest thing that bring joys to our children’s hearts is Winter Wishes,” said Jill. “This is the first time we worked with agency that actually fulfilled a child’s wish. Some wrote a letter for 2 or 3 gifts and received all 3. Even teenagers were able to receive a fashionable sweater they desired, but never could have afforded, and this put a gleam in everyone’s eyes.”
Our relationship with PAL - Goldie Maple Academy Beacon is just one shining example of the wonderful work we share in with our Community Partners. It is with these relationships that we are able to help these Partners touch the lives of the communities in which they reside. Though we will continue to provide the support needed to rebuild homes, schools, and community centers, we are also focused on growing our on-going programming in these impacted areas, as we have introduced our year-round projects to our Partner agencies, including children’s programming such as, MusicTime, Snacktivities, Teaching Empowerment, Literacy, and Learning, Art and Sports Explorers, and more.
Everyone in this community was impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and as an organization, we are putting more of a focus on these human service projects, as this is our more personal way to grow and connect with the people of the neighborhoods and help them to recover mentally and emotionally after Hurricane Sandy.
“A lot of good came from Hurricane Sandy. I am a resident. I too suffered, as well as many other families”, said Jill. “But I must say, it brought this community together and made people realize no one is exempt. Two separate neighborhoods, east and west, this hurricane made us come together. I use marriage as a word to describe but it is really true. (As far as New York Cares coming into the community) The community did suffer, but when people reach out their arms, the suffering went over their heads. New York Cares along with so many others came in and helped to replace the items they lost. As long as you give children something, they are happy and satisfied. New York Cares provided a service that we couldn’t do at the moment, because we too, were in so much pain. Thank you. Thank you!”
As we continue to grow our programming in The Rockaways, our projects could use your help: Click here to volunteer today.
You can find us in other neighborhoods across the five boroughs working to heal communities after Sandy. We need your support in Coastal Brooklyn (Red Hook, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach) and Staten Island (St. George, West Brighton, Stapleton, New Dorp-Richmondtown, Port Richmond, Rosebank-Oldtown).