DGC Takes on Hurricane Sandy
On Friday, many of the DiGennaro team went out to The Rockaways in Queens to help the Hurricane-crippled area. Our goal was to help out as much as we could – for an area that needed more help than can be expressed.
What we witnessed was devastating. Sand had come up onto sidewalks that were blocks away from the beach. Basements were flooded as high as the ceilings – with the contents in the basements destroyed and left soaking for days. The amount of trash and destruction had piled up in parking lots. Downed power lines. National Guard. It was chaos.
Our task was two-fold – part of our team helped with distribution of goods and supplies at a local church, while the other part of our team took to the streets to help clean out flooded basements.
We asked some of our teammates who went on the trip to reflect on their trip:
Kathy Sampey, Senior Account Director
Parts of The Rockaways look like Europe after the war. Cars crushed, homes destroyed. There’s sand and dirt everywhere, and it’s advisable to wear a protective mask just walking through the streets. After we’d finished cleaning out the basements of two homes—a task not for the faint of heart—people that saw us walking by, full of mud and carrying shovels, started crying and thanked us for coming out. There’s still so much to be done, though.
Melissa Arriaga, Marketing Coordinator
If we were to have learned one thing from our efforts on Friday it would be this: that the sheer magnitude of help that
this community needs right now is incomprehensible until experienced in-person. As our team took an entire work day out to help as much as possible, we were able to gratefully help a couple of families – out of the hundreds of thousands that still desperately need help- and will continue to need over the foreseeable future. Please contribute in any way that you as an individual can whether it be through spreading the word to others, gathering teams to volunteer or through monetary/supply donations.
Samantha DiGennaro, Founder/CEO
I was raised in Belle Harbor on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The neighborhood has been ravaged. My two best friends, cousins and my mom’s partner have all either lost homes or will be displaced for very long-term because of major flooding and water damage, as well as fires. There are countless other stories. 110 homes burnt down in BreezyPpoint, 10 homes burnt down in Belle Harbor and this once beautiful neighborhood is now a sandy wreck.
Pat Wentling, Account Coordinator
Going out to The Rockaways was much more emotional than I ever could have imagined. When you see pictures and images of disaster-stricken areas, it simply does not do justice or capture the human element to the destruction. There are homes and memories that are lost due to uncontrollable forces. It cannot be what it once was, but the resolve of the community remains, which will be the pillar of strength as they start over, for The Rockaways, my beloved Jersey Shore, and all other areas affected by Sandy. It’s going to take years and numerous amounts of manpower, but the determination will supersede any natural disaster.
Gemma Pollard, Senior Account Director
We are in the very fortunate position of working for an executive team that sees the importance of allowing their employees to participate in programs to help those in need. Seeing the crippling damage caused by Hurricane Sandy with my own eyes really helped to put the whole disaster in perspective.
We saw a lot of devastating things on the Rockaway Peninsula – from the colossal landfill piles of wrecked homes, the shattered beach boardwalk and heaven knows what else, to the mud-soaked, unsalvageable years of memories in the handful of basements we ventured into. However, the most devastating thing I HEARD came from the guy directing the spontaneous volunteer teams (i.e., us) saying that he was in a position of having too many volunteers.
The disconnect between an overwhelming need for help and an overwhelming number of people wanting to help is saddening and I hope it’s something that is fixed quickly. In fact after reading a blog post I wrote about the day, three of my friends were inspired to head to The Rockaways over the weekend to lend a hand. Not all of us time to spare, but if you’re able to buy some basic supplies to donate – contractor garbage bags, baby wipes, Band-Aids, cleaning supplies – or make a cash donation, every little helps. There is still a dire need.
Melissa Im, Account Coordinator
After a storm or natural disaster there is an innate desire to help – DiGennaro is lucky enough to have a corporate culture and leadership team that allowed us do exactly that, by hiring a bus and finding a location in The Rockaways where we could volunteer for the day.
When we arrived, I did not expect the tremendous need and the amount of trust and gratitude we received for cleaning out flooded basements.
Anna, an elderly women living in the area lost her most precious belongings – a wedding album, family memories and more. As we cleaned out her basement and offered words of encouragement I learned that a smile can do more than one thinks. She praised us for our cheery demeanors and thanked us for all of our work.
Although it seemed like we had not done enough – cleaning two basements, we did a lot for those two families. As I recapped the efforts DiGennaro did, my friends often chime in wishing they could have joined or express a deeper commitment to giving back. That is what we could hope for that our efforts have impact and that it encourages others to lend a helping hand and smile.
We were also fortunate enough to hear from one of the homes we helped, who sent an email to our info-address:
Anna, longterm resident of Belle Harbor
Hi I want to thank your company for your compassion during the aftermath of sandy. Your team came to my house today and helped me clean my basement. They went to work like it was their home. I want to commend your company for your help today it was looking like we were going to be cleaning until dark but the ladies finished in about 2 hours. I still can’t return to the house due to no power but the worry of cleaning my basement is over. Thanks again. Your ladies were amazing.
While we were only able to help for a few hours for one day, it’s clear it was a rewarding experience for us all. The DGC team is looking into future volunteer days to help the continuing recovery effort.
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