Shortly after Hurricane Sandy left her devastating mark on Staten Island on October 29, 2012, responding disaster relief teams in need of housing prompted the Great Kills Moravian Church to begin a mission to provide free housing with Wi-Fi, cable, a kitchen, and a meal or two prepared by members of the congregation. Rebuilding needs remain, and our church has proudly continued housing teams from various cities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Florida, just to name a few. We also offer housing to interns with AmeriCorps while they are negotiating permanent lodgings, or requiring a place to stay for a short time before their return home.
Throughout the year, housing and worksite placement for some of our visiting mission teams involves coordination with the Episcopal Recovery Team of Staten Island; the Volunteer Group Housing Partnership of the NY Disaster Interfaith Services; and the World Cares Center. Our church also coordinates with Darrell Hayes, Disaster Response Coordinator for Staten Island, Episcopal Recovery Team of Staten Island; Derek Tobacco, Guyon Rescue; the St. Bernard Project, and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The Staten Island South Shore YMCA Executive Director, John Semerad, provides daily guest passes to every volunteer to use the showers and exercise facilities.
While visiting, team members encounter opportunities for a wide range of experiences. Many of the rebuilders use their existing construction skills or undergo on the job training, all in an urban environment. There are also those who come to Staten Island to participate in community service by helping with the Moravian Church clothing drive, serving in soup kitchens, and experiencing diverse congregations at the various Moravian Churches in the five boroughs of New York City. All of our visiting volunteers have the opportunity to enjoy the many sites and restaurants on Staten Island not to mention the awesome sight of the Statue of Liberty while riding on the Staten Island Ferry towards New York City to see a show on Broadway or to visit the many sites, restaurants, and activities the Big Apple has to offer.
Visiting teams are composed of groups of adults, seniors, and high school and college students. Many of the mission team members spoke of feeling a great deal of accomplishment at the end of their stay and were so grateful that the Great Kills Moravian Church not only provided clean and safe housing, but friendship and hospitality. Many also said they would like to return to Staten Island to continue the rebuilding of our community.
For more information about this and other programs at Great Kills Moravian Church, contact us at Office@GreatKillsMoravian.org or 718-317-7788.