Lending a Helping Hand

(Photos courtesy of the Red Cross)

Volunteers from all over the United States have flocked to the East Coast to help with relief efforts following the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought forth in October. One of those volunteers is NorthstarMLS’s very own Ed Newman, Director of Information Technology. Newman learned of his disaster relief deployment with the Red Cross in mid-November and has been out there ever since. He found a few minutes to share what he and so many others are doing to help with the rebuilding process.

When did you get the call to head out there?

Ed Newman: You put your availability into a national system. Once you get requested for a deployment – if you agree, you have 24 hours to make your travel arrangements.

What exactly is your title and role with the Red Cross?

EN: For this deployment, I am a Client Casework Manager – I am responsible for sixty awesome volunteers, of which about 25% are supervisors. Our activities include 1) working with clients at four shelters helping to create transition plans and support to move them out of shelters; 2) Operating a call center that combined Red Cross chapter calls, how and what to donate calls, plus possible client calls for the call center (staffed by client case workers to help clients with connections to support and recovery agencies; 3) Seven outreach teams that traveled the coast of two counties in New Jersey, Ocean and Monmouth, connecting with people providing emotional and real support ranging from shovels, clean up kits, back packs with emergency supplies, garbage bags, pampers, as well as referrals.

What area/zone are you helping with?

EN: New Jersey, Ocean and Monmouth.

How long are your shifts?

EN: You might get one day off every seven days. Most volunteers work from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. I have had days that started at 4 a.m. and ended at 11 p.m. Most of mine are 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

How long do you expect your stint to be out there?

EN: Up to three weeks total.

How long have you been volunteering with Red Cross and how did you get involved?
EN: Eight years ago. A friend asked me.

Now that you’ve been out there and have seen things first-hand, how is the clean-up progressing?

EN: It will take years.

Was your group involved with anything Thanksgiving related?

EN: We had more turkey than we could possibly eat. A lot of locally donated feasts – as well as ones planned by the New Jersey Red Cross headquarters.

Any other thoughts or stories you might have?

EN: To counter the stories about not seeing Red Cross volunteers, we had Red Cross volunteers get their pictures taken standing next to town signs so they could be posted to social media.

If you would like to donate to the Sandy relief efforts, there are various ways to help. Financial donations to help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy can be made here. Or you can text message REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to Disaster Relief efforts.

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