Episcopal Service Corps and Episcopal Relief & Development Partner for Disaster Recovery in Staten Island

As the one-year anniversary approaches, we are checking in with select sites that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Caribbean and eastern US in late October 2012.

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I decided to join the Episcopal Service Corps, kind of at the last minute. I saw a posting on Idealist about an internship that involved disaster preparedness for faith communities at an organization called Episcopal Relief & Development. Given my dual interests in humanitarian aid and climate change, it seemed like the perfect position, and I applied right away.

What I was actually getting myself into was the New York Intern Program – Episcopal Service Corps, NYC Chapter. The organization houses interns at different churches, finds them internships that are relevant to their interests, and organizes different ways to learn about social justice, community living, and vocational discernment. I was placed with the US Disaster Program at Episcopal Relief & Development.

I took to the experience right away as I met the other interns: six who would be living with me at Church of the Intercession in Harlem, five others who would be at St. Mary’s Manhattenville, and five more at St. Paul’s on Staten Island.

I had orientation with the Staten Island Recovery Team, who would be working to rebuild houses affected by Superstorm Sandy. During orientation, led by the US Disaster Program, we learned about the sometimes-tricky dynamics that exist around giving and receiving help through role playing and discussion. 


Members of the New York Internship Program – Episcopal Service Corp, New York City Chapter

The scope of the whole project didn't really come together for me until I joined staff from Episcopal Relief & Development for a day of volunteering in Staten Island. When we arrived, Darrell Hayes, the Staten Island Recovery Coordinator, talked about the four houses we would be working on and what needed to be done. We split ourselves up according to interest and skill level (which was minimal,) with one intern from Episcopal Service Corps leading each team.


Staten Island Recovery Team with Darrell Hayes the Staten Island Recovery Coordinator

I was struck by how much my fellow interns had learned about construction in the six short weeks of the program. I was also impressed by how tirelessly they had been working on these houses: making themselves available whenever a volunteer group was able to come.


Staff from Episcopal Relief & Development with the Staten Island Recovery Team 

The day itself was a lot of work and a lot of fun. The highlight was a wonderful homemade Indian feast that a gracious homeowner prepared for us.

We all came away with a feeling of accomplishment and pride about the great work that is being done by the Staten Island Recovery Team. If you or someone you know has a group of volunteers that would like to help out on Staten Island, please email episcopal.recoveryteam.si@gmail.com, or check out their facebook page.

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Shelby Brown is the US Disaster Program Intern, participating through Episcopal Service Corps.

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