Over the last month, news stories both heartbreaking and heartwarming have come out of Staten Island, New York, as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Within days of the storm, officials declared that of all the victims from the storm, over half lived in the small borough located just south of Manhattan.
Heartwarming stories also erupted in the area as the community sprung into action to help friends, family, and neighbors. Yet, for all of the support within the hard-hit area, there is plenty to do in the relief efforts. That hundreds of vulnerable residents didn’t have flood insurance makes those needs all the more profound.
Since the storm, the Faith in Action Committee of Trinity Baptist Church, Conyers, has been exploring to help in Staten Island. The committee, commissioned since the church’s founding in 1984, is tasked with finding opportunities for Trinity to live out its mission to “empower people to celebrate and affirm God’s love for all” both within and beyond the walls of the church.
The storm also hit a personal chord for Trinity’s pastor, Joe LaGuardia. He grew up in Staten Island, and his family still resides there. His two sisters and their families, as well as his uncle, weathered the storm unscathed; his aunt, however, found a flooded home upon her return a few days after the storm.
Darrell Smith, a Trinity member on the Faith in Action Committee, has experience with such tragedy and loss. His non-profit, Global Environmental Relief, has aided in recovery efforts in New Orleans, Sudan, and Haiti. Global and Trinity together stand poised to help Staten Island.
Over the next few weeks, Pastor Joe and Darrell will be traveling to Staten Island to meet with area churches and non-profits to discover where the greatest needs remain. Their goal is to get funding and grants to put Global ER in the thick of the relief efforts and position Global to coordinate with churches across the South in order to help locals in the Staten Island area.
As the local church partners with Global to provide airfare to New York, funds are needed for incidentals and living expenses for Joe’s and Darrell’s five-day trip. Global is currently taking donations via Paypal in order to funnel resources for this–and future–trips north.
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