by Jeremy Sierra
“It was very, very clear that there are plenty of opportunities for people to help,” said staff member Ellen Prior after her trip to Staten Island.
Prior was among one of several groups who have traveled to Staten Island to volunteer in previous weeks.
“If you like getting in the muck there’s opportunity for that,” said Prior,” if you like organizing clothes there’s opportunity for that.” They have sorted clothing, delivered supplies, and cleared out mud and debris.
Trinity is working with Christ Church and St. John’s Anglican Episcopal Church on Staten Island to coordinate volunteers and contributions. St. John’s was especially hard hit, and many members need help cleaning out their homes.
Staff members Jenn Chinn and James Melchiorre, as well as parishioner James Gomez, are coordinating the trips.
“Staten Island is where I live so it meant a lot to go and help out,” said Dean Wiltshire, a Trinity staff member who helped. Wiltshire’s home was not affected by the storm, but he spent a Saturday helping clear muddy water, drywall, and ruined furniture from a house.
A wide variety of people have joined in the efforts, including volunteers from Grace Episcopal Church. The Rt. Rev. Julio Murray, Bishop of Panama, also took up a saw one day to cut away drywall. He was in town for a meeting of Trinity’s Mission and Service Trip partners.
There are still signs of tragedy in parts of Staten Island. Some streets are clogged with military vehicles, trucks, garbage, and mud, but that hasn’t prevented people from helping.
“People are finding creative ways of helping each other,” said Prior.
She was impressed by the bicycle brigade formed by local volunteers, who visited elderly people in their homes to find out what they needed, and then returned with the supplies.
“What they really need right now is hearts and hands,” said Trinity parishioner Scott Townell.
On Friday, Townell, along with Mildred Chandler, Nola Meyer, Dolores Osborne, and other parishioners sorted clothes, food, and personal care items at Christ Church, which has been overwhelmed with donations. They then drove supplies to other churches that had requested particular items.
“We made a significant dent in the problem they had ask us to help with,” said Townell. “It was a good day, a hardworking day.”
Trinity continues to listen and respond to the needs of the Staten Island community.
This week, Trinity volunteers are making homemade placemats and packing brown bags for a 1,000-meal Thanksgiving dinner being offered by Christ Church. Brown bag meals will also be distributed from the Trinity churchyard on Thanksgiving and Ariana’s Grand, a catering loft turned community center in Staten Island.