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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to send a group to volunteer.