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Issue #19 | Aug 2013
A Note from Katie
Hello everyone, 
I wrote you all shortly after Hurricane Sandy about the importance of volunteers in disaster response and the need to give the locals the time to set up programs that can utilize those volunteers. Now we can tell you that Sandy-impacted dioceses are ready and eager to accept your help! In this Lamplight, learn about how your parish can get involved with projects, and please let us know if you have any questions. 
Thanks so much for all your work.

A Conversation
with Elizabeth Heenan,
Volunteer Coordinator
for Hurricane Sandy

As part of the rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Sandy, Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting a coordinated volunteer response among three Episcopal dioceses: New York, New Jersey and Easton. Volunteer coordinator Elizabeth Heenan explains her role and details ways parishes can get involved.   


What does your job entail?


I'm the first person volunteers talk to when they contact us.  I assign volunteers to project sites run by the dioceses of Easton, New Jersey and New York. I am also in charge of the website, relief.episcopalny.org which describes our volunteer program. And I recruit volunteers by spreading awareness of the programs in the different dioceses.


How do volunteers sign up?

E-mail me at regvolcoord@episcopalny.org. I usually call the volunteer leader the same day to answer questions and find out their needs and wants. 


Once we determine which site fits a group best, I give the group leaders the site coordinator's contact information so they can solidify their trip, get the correct paper work, and ask site-specific questions.


Depending on the site, the cost for the volunteer experience is about $10 per person per day. We set up housing and provide the work. We ask that volunteers plan on being self-sufficient for food, and that they provide their own transportation from housing to work sites.


What volunteer opportunities are available?


We accommodate any type of group, including individuals and groups that come for day trips or week-long trips. All three of our diocesan programs are doing reconstruction in private homes, and have several houses they are working on at any given time. We also send volunteers to a soup kitchen in Keansburg, NJ, that is still feeding disaster survivors.


What are the current needs for volunteers? 


We are really looking for skilled volunteers over the age of 18. The Diocese of Easton is looking for electricians and plumbers.  The dioceses of New York and New Jersey are looking for people skilled in "finishing" work, such as painting and putting up drywall and cabinets. Groups with one or two skilled workers are very valuable because they can help manage the rest of the volunteers. 


We are trying our best to find work for those under the age of 18, although work can be found for unskilled volunteers as well. Right now minors can do some clean-up work and volunteer in soup kitchens. Due to different state laws, we are finding it very difficult to place minors at reconstruction sites. But some laws may be changing in response to the need for Sandy volunteers. New Jersey, for example, now allows 16-year-olds to volunteer as long as there is one adult for every three youth under 18. Look on our website for updates.

What has the response been like?


Since May, more than thirty groups have volunteered with us, and all of our sites have been almost fully booked. We are hoping that this fall and next summer there will be even more interest.


What advice do you have for groups that are preparing to volunteer?


Be open minded, ready to work, and ready to be changed. When I was in AmeriCorps, one of the staff members told us "while you are out trying to change the world, take a moment to let the world change you."


Visit relief.episcopalny.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities in the Dioceses of Easton, New York and New Jersey. Email Elizabeth at regvolcoord@episcopalny.org with questions or to send a group to volunteer.

How To: Adapting a Parish Soup Kitchen after Hurricane Sandy

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City on Oct 29, 2012, much of the city was paralyzed by power outages, flooding, halted public transportion and spotty cell phone service. But that didn't stop Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood from distributing thousands of sandwiches to a population that grew to about 2,000 guests after the storm.


Power outages, supply issues and staffing concerns can all threaten a feeding ministry when a disaster strikes. At the same time, the immediate need for prepared meals can increase exponentially as displaced people struggle to buy food or make a meal in places such as shelters or hotel rooms.


Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has been a ministry of Church of the Holy Apostles, an Episcopal parish in Manhattan, for more than 30 years. Michael Ottley, the soup kitchen's director of operations, and Yvonne Cassidy, the soup kitchen's development officer, suggest these tips for adapting a soup kitchen to the needs that arise after a disaster.


Have a communications plan

Anticipating that power would be out after the hurricane, Ottley texted his cooking staff before the storm, telling them to come in to work that week if it was safe and if they could make it. After the storm, power outages and spotty cell phone service made it difficult to contact volunteers and community members by conventional means. Yvonne Cassidy, the soup kitchen's development officer, posted the need for donated sandwiches on the soup kitchen's Facebook page and Twitter account. Donations came pouring in.


Recruit some volunteers who live nearby

Holy Apostles benefitted greatly from a group of long-term volunteers who live in the senior apartments next door. After the hurricane, their own building had power from internal generators, so residents were free to walk over to the soup kitchen to help make sandwiches and distribute food.


Be flexible about menus and serving locations

"We know we're going to serve a meal," Ottley said. "It might not be the meal we planned to serve. We've got to adjust and serve what we have." What they had included tuna fish and mayonnaise, bread and beverages, he said. The ministry also had a strategy for changing where the food was served, switching to the outdoor food distribution that they typically employ on Good Friday, when the church building is in use. 


Be able to grow with the need

After the soup kitchen resumed its regular hot meal program, Ottley said it was able to meet the needs of new clients who began to use the program as a result of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Many people who were displaced by the storm were resettled into hotels in the neighborhood. They added to the number of clients for about three months. The soup kitchen was also well equipped to offer referral and counseling services to new clients who needed help after the storm. 


Visit the Resource Library on Episcopal Relief & Development's website, www.episcopalrelief.org, to download a printable version of this article or to read more about Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Visit the soup kitchen's website at holyapostlessoupkitchen.org.  


In this Issue:


Volunteer opportunities in the Dioceses of New York, New Jersey and Easton.


Adapting a parish soup kitchen after Hurricane Sandy




Episcopal Relief & Development's response during tornado season


Episcopal Relief & Development is working alongside dioceses in Oklahoma and Texas to meet the needs of their communities during tornado season.



Join "Ready to Serve" 

Offer your services to your vulnerable neighbors after a disaster. Sign up here to be called upon to volunteer.  


Current Disaster

Response Projects:  


Tornado Response

Diocese of Oklahoma

Volunteer Opportunities:

Diocese of 

Volunteer opportunities include indoor and outdoor repair of flood-damaged homes in the diocese of Bethlehem, PA. Contact Rev. John Major for information on how to sign up. 

Volunteer information and registration for Hurricane Sandy-impacted areas now online.


Diocese of Texas
Home rebuild program in Bastrop
Current Disaster Recovery Projects:

Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
Trinity Episcopal Church in West Pittston is working with ecumenical partners in Northeast Pennsylvania to support neighbors affected by flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011.

Episcopal Diocese of Easton
The Diocese of Easton is hosting volunteer groups to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy and construct new ones where existing homes cannot be repaired.

Jericho Road
A neighborhood-based, home-building organization is working to revitalize Central City, a New Orleans neighborhood recovering from Hurricane Katrina and decades of disinvestment.

Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana 

Case managers are supporting affected communities as they adapt to the financial,emotional and social changes caused by Hurricane Isaac and the oil spill.


Episcopal Diocese of New York
The Diocese of New York is working with volunteers and young people from Episcopal Service Corps to rebuild homes on Staten Island following Hurricane Sandy.

Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey 
The Diocese of New Jersey is working with parishes statewide to identify those falling through the cracks and creating parish-based programs to meet needs following Hurricane Sandy.

Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota
All Saints Episcopal Church in Minot is coordinating with volunteers to rebuild flooded homes.
Episcopal Diocese of Texas
The diocese and Calvary Episcopal Church are working with its ecumenical partners in Bastrop to rebuild homes destroyed by the fires in the fall of 2011.

New Resources for Disaster Relief:


Volunteer Curriculum: Ready to Serve with Compassion. Activities to orient volunteers responding to disaster.


Slideshow on volunteer response in the Diocese of Easton. MD.


Contact Us:
Katie Mears, Director
Barbara Ballenger, Training Coordinator