On October 30th, 2012, Resurrection Brooklyn church members began serving in the temporary shelters for Hurricane Sandy survivors that were being set up in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, and Williamsburg . As the week progressed and just how long it would take for our city to recover set in, the congregations of Resurrection Brooklyn started a full time volunteer rebuild program to come along our neighbors who would need assistance relocating or rebuilding post-Sandy. This ministry became known as Resurrection Brooklyn Relief, and for the past two and three quarter years, we have sought to act as a conduit of materials and coordinated volunteer resources.
With the close of our 12 month grant from the American Red Cross and a diminished supply of volunteer teams, RBRelief officially wrapped up August 31st, 2015. Since Sandy hit our city in 2012, RBRelief facilitated 3,183 volunteers for a total of 20,243 volunteer hours, adding up to $467,006 worth of labor for Brooklyn homeowners with unmet rebuild needs post-Sandy. RBRelief was able to assist 10 families with relocation and completed recovery projects on 70 homes, one small business, and three churches.
First and foremost, we owe a big thank you to all our volunteers. Whether you came locally or from out of state and stayed with us at our volunteer housing, without you RBRelief could not have served the unmet needs of our Brooklyn neighbors post-Sandy. Thank you for giving up your time, money, and energy to come and serve those affected by Sandy. Special thanks to all those out of state teams that came multiple times to Brooklyn to serve in Sandy recovery! You not only met physical needs, more importantly, you gave these neighbors hope. Hope that someone out there hasn’t forgotten their need and cares. Hope that they can recover from this tragedy and have their lives be made whole again. Thank you!
Second, thank you to all the churches, individuals, and volunteer groups who supported this work financially the last few years. I wish I could name you all. Thank you to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and Mission to North America for giving substantially to our first year plus of ministry. We owe a big debt of gratitude to the American Red Cross of Greater New York for reaching out to us in early 2014 to step in and keep RBRelief going for the past 12 months. Thank you!
Third, we would like to highlight a few on the ground partners who have aided our efforts in Brooklyn. The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has been our tag team partner on almost all rebuild projects RBRelief engaged since the summer of 2013. Gillian Prince, you’re the best! Thanks to New York Disaster Interfaith Services for all your guidance, support, and encouragement. You helped us, a small grass roots organization, stay in tune with the big picture. Thanks to Bay Improvement Group for supplying us with our first tools and connecting us with so many neighbors in need. And finally, thanks to Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation for serving as our fiscal sponsor for our Red Cross grant and providing support to our projects these past 12 months.
Finally, I would like to thank all the disaster case managers, volunteer rebuild organizations, volunteer recruitment organizations, advocates, and leaders who came together to form an effective collaboration across disaster recovery partners at the Brooklyn Long Term Recovery Group. When asked why the Construction/Volunteers/Donations Committee in Brooklyn works, I always say it is because of the talented men and women who laid their egos aside and wanted it to work. It’s been a pleasure serving with you the past year and a half and I am grateful for all your contributions to Brooklyn recovery.
Resurrection Brooklyn Relief may be closed as a full time volunteer rebuild program, but we are still in Brooklyn. We will transition from being a church with a full time volunteer program to a local church in a Sandy affected neighborhood, serving both Sandy related needs and ongoing needs for the long haul. That said, there is still plenty of Sandy recovery left to be done and not enough hands to get it done. Overall, New York City has not received the steady flow of volunteers the Gulf Coast saw in response to Katrina. If you were hoping to volunteer with RBRelief in the coming year, please consider reaching out to our partner, the New York Annual Conference, who will still be facilitating volunteers through 2016.
The Lord be with you,
Brian, The Pastor of Disaster