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The Civilian Emergency Response Corp (CERC) was launched in September of 2013 as a disaster preparedness and response effort focused on recruiting and managing high-skilled New American community members willing to assist in Super Storm Sandy recovery efforts, assist Sandy-affected New American victims rebuild their lives and communities, develop a strong network of volunteers who can respond in future disasters and connect immigrants to services they may need.

With a second year of funding, The Office for New Americans (ONA) CERC expanded its efforts to focus on recruiting and engaging volunteers of various skill levels to serve in Sandy-impacted communities. This expansion is in response to feedback from the Volunteer Liaison. As part of this initiative, the Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Inc. (EOC) and New York State Office for New Americans Volunteer Liaison work to recruit and engage professionals, trades people, social workers, students, apprentices, and other individuals who have skills that could help a community recover from a disaster and volunteer for projects in the communities affected by Super Storm Sandy.

The first three months of the program in 2016 focused on coordinating disaster preparedness resources with organizations such as: the American Red Cross, and volunteer rebuild service projects for Sandy affected communities. The CERC Initiative included speaking with families and individuals whose homes and small business may benefit from purchasing of materials and engaging our volunteers of New American status and others who were willing to participate.

The Challenge

The CERC team established the perfect partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) who shares similar but not all of the same focus as the Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Inc. by meeting the unmet needs of Sandy Victims under the auspices of the NYS Office of New Americans. On February 27, 2016, and March 19, 2016 ONA CERC and UMCOR tackled a great task. A 90 year old resident in Freeport, NY was living in her home in deplorable conditions with her family for almost 3 years prior to CERC involvement. The house was in a gutted state with no electricity, bathrooms, or insulation.

The Conclusion

As a result of this partnership, CERC\UMCOR were able to add warmth to the residence by installing insulation in the upstairs living quarters as well as the garage ceiling, providing insulation to the upstairs floor. By providing the tools necessary for our volunteers, we were able to complete this task for the resident in Freeport, NY.

A Quote from the Resident

“I just wanted to say thank you for all your help this past weekend. It is greatly appreciated by my mom and myself.…The new day brings new hope with mom - receiving correspondence from NY Rising with her successful appeal. … We now can move forward with the elevation and reconstruction of our primary home - three years after Sandy.”

© Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County, Inc.

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