Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Friday, Sept. 2 launched “Labor for your Neighbor,” a Labor Day weekend effort to tap into the good neighbor instincts of New Yorkers and rally volunteers to pitch in on local cleanups of public and private property following the devastation of Hurricane Irene.
The governor said he and members of his family will join New Yorkers who turn out to help their neighbors, bringing tools, elbow grease and volunteers to the Schoharie Valley, Catskills and North Country, where the storm brought extensive damage. The governor has visited each of these regions to assess damage since the storm hit. Clean-ups will take place on Sunday and Monday. Volunteers will be safely shuttled into villages needing assistance, and provided appropriate supervision and equipment.
“In village after village and town after town, we have witnessed the wonderful spirit of New Yorkers turning out to help others in need,” said Cuomo. “Grocers have thrown open their doors and given away all their food. Customers have come out to clean up local businesses and return them to operation. Neighbors have shared food, clothing and shelter. Through ‘Labor for your Neighbor,’ we want to stimulate even more neighbor-to-neighbor help on this long holiday weekend. We've given it a name, but there is no copyright on the kindness of friends and neighbors. While government at all levels organizes resources for the great leaps toward full recovery, individual New Yorkers can, with just a few hours of work, help their neighbors take small steps toward normalcy. As an elderly woman in Prattsville told us this week, even someone to help get the mud out of her basement would give her the hope for a new start.”
Cuomo said that major corporations have already responded to his requests for support of “Labor for your Neighbor.” Home Depot, WalMart and other companies and suppliers will supply cleaning pails, mops, shovels, rakes cleaning supplies, food, water and other equipment.
The National Guard and State Office of Emergency Management will supervise the effort.
There are many ways for New Yorkers to volunteer or contribute over the coming weeks. New Yorkers who want to help by making a money donation to recovery efforts can do so through a centralized effort coordinated by United Way of New York State. United Way has set up dedicated fund that will take donations for charities and voluntary agencies assisting with recovery efforts in the affected communities. One hundred percent of donations will go relief efforts. United Way will work with other statewide charitable partners, such as Catholic Charities, United Jewish Appeal, Red Cross, the Food Bank Association, the Community Action Association and others, in the Hurricane Irene Storm Recovery Fund.
Susan K. Hager, President and CEO of United Way of New York State said, “Thousands of individuals and families have been hurt by this storm. Homes and livelihood have been damaged or destroyed leaving many without even the basics: food, clothing, household goods and even transportation. Affected families with school-aged children are especially challenged to ready their children for the start of the new school year. Beyond that all of our neighbors who have been adversely impacted by this storm need our help. United Way of New York State is proud to partner with Gov. Cuomo in responding to these needs.”
New Yorkers interested in volunteering or contributing can do so on the governor’s website. Volunteers will receive specific directions and instructions for the cleanup sites.
Those who wish to contribute goods rather than funds should directly contact charitable organizations in their areas to determine which will accept such contributions and what items are most needed in the storm relief effort. United Way and the Disaster Relief Centers being set up by New York State with the Federal Emergency Management Administration do not accept non-cash contributions.