Hurricane Sandy: A Volunteer’s Experience
11-Jan-2013 Contributed by: Andrea Macy
As a New Yorker who lived through one of the most horrific and devastating natural
disasters in recent history, there was no question as to whether or not I was going to
volunteer following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
When the storm hit on October 29, 2012, none of us could’ve anticipated the damage
and destruction that would be left in its wake. While I am considered one of the
fortunate ones who didn’t lose power or endure any structural damage to my home
or property, millions of my neighbors were not as lucky.
With work canceled for the remainder of the week there was no way I was
going to sit home and monitor my twitter feed all day. The subway system was
completely shut down and power lines lay interwoven among broken tree branches,
needless to say transportation throughout the boroughs was impossible.
With my bike as my only means of getting around, I loaded up my backpack with
fresh fruit, extra layers of clothing, and several water bottles to head across the
Queensborough Bridge and volunteer with an organization called GOLES (Good Old
Lower East Side, www.goles.org). From their facebook page I learned that they were
in need of volunteers to check on families and elderly citizens living in high-rise
buildings where there was no power (and subsequently, no working elevators).
The day was long and tiring (I lost count towards the end but I’m pretty sure I
climbed over 100 flights of stairs), we brought care packages to those in need and
made sure those who required medical assistance were connected with doctors.
Volunteering that day (and over the next following weeks) provided a rewarding
experience that I will never forget. It felt good to volunteer.
Someone once said, “When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself.”
Sure, it sounds narcissistic and something that shouldn’t really be said aloud, but
I personally don’t believe there should be any shame associated with feeling good
after helping someone.
The same rings true for random acts of kindness. Though not premeditated or
planned, holding a door open or assisting a stranger in need is the best ego boost
around. Filling the soul with warm satisfaction, the act of helping others is both
contagious and addicting.
Keep in mind the motivation behind volunteering should never be completely self-
satisfying (it is, after all, about assisting others and not yourself) and that sometimes
the job at hand will not be entirely desirable or enjoyable. The main point is to keep in
mind that at the end of the day you are contributing to a greater good.
Please know that Hurricane Sandy clean up is far from over and that your help
is still very much needed. Check out the following websites to see how you can
contribute to the greater good.
Andrea Macy is a writer/performer/zumba enthusiast/amateur cook/wannabe vegan/marketing whiz based in NYC. Follow her daily quest for inner-balance and peace on twitter @andrea_macy