STORY: Sometimes You Need to Stop, Talk, Look and Listen

Written by Dawn Thompson

Sandy Relief

LONG ISLAND – Disaster relief volunteer Lisa Thorsen of Los Angeles, CA always keeps her eyes, her ears, and her heart open as she delivers basic necessities and clean-up supplies to disaster-stricken areas of New York City.

En route to deliver a load of much-needed items to the Agape Community Church in Mastic Beach, N.Y., Thorsen stopped at a gas station to get directions.A casual chat with the locals inside yielded the names of several local groups that could help get Red Cross supplies into the hands of the people who need them most.

Thorsen explained that all drivers keep a running narrative of contacts and areas that need a helping hand, along with the kind of items local residents say they can use.

To date, the Red Cross has provided more than 4.4 million relief and recovery items so far, from blankets and diapers to bleach and trash bags, from shelf-stable meals and plastic storage bins to push brooms and work gloves. All are designed to meet the immediate emergency needs of the tens of thousands of people impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

At the church, Pastor Abner Olmeda and his wife, Damaris, greeted the Red Cross truck with smiles and obvious looks of relief. Parish members and the Red Cross delivery team worked together to unload blankets, water, food, and clean-up kits.

As word spread that the Red Cross was in the community, residents offered information on where there were pockets of particular need. Again, Thorsen paid close attention.

Back on the road, Thorsen spotted a man outside. She called out, identifying herself as a Red Cross volunteers and asked how his family was faring.

The man told the team that his family food and drinking water. Thorsen logged the address called other Red Cross drivers in the area to see if they could fulfill the request. Ultimately, she contacted the central warehouse, where team members assured her they would have the “Meals Ready to Eat” ready to load when she arrived.

As long as residents of devastated neighborhoods have emergency needs that the surrounding community can’t fulfill, the Red Cross is committed to stopping, looking, listening and delivering.

Thompson is a volunteer from the San Antonio Chapter of the American Red Cross.

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