NEW YORK – Eight New Yorkers were honored Wednesday by the White House as Hurricane Sandy “Champions of Change.”
The White House recognized the individuals for their work in response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy. These hidden heroes implemented innovative, collaborative solutions to meet the unique needs of communities and neighborhoods as they worked to rebuild after the devastating effects of this disaster.
“As soon as a disaster hits, we see citizens come together to help those in need,” said Paulette Aniskoff, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement. “Time and again, we have seen the courage and heroism of first responders, organizations and ordinary people in providing relief, recovery and care, and these Hurricane Sandy Champions of Change are no exception.”
Those honored were:
Amanda “Mandy” Bickerstaff, UWSLoves (New York, NY)
Mandy Bickerstaff is a Program Director for Do Your Part, a nonprofit organization that supports disaster relief and long-term recovery. After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, Bickerstaff volunteered with the Red Cross and saw how important good food made with love was in times of disaster. She co-founded UWSLoves, which prepared over 1,500 hot meals and more than 3,000 sandwiches for those in need on the Lower East Side, Rockaway, Coney Island and Red Hook. During this time, Bickerstaff also compiled a cookbook of recipes and stories from the relief effort to support continued fundraising. She continues to work with relief organizations around the New York and New Jersey areas, coordinating fundraisers, large donations and volunteers. Her grandparents are her inspiration, instilling in her the importance of public service and dedication to those in need.
Ariel Creamer, Survivors Silver Lining (Queens, NY)
After evacuating her home during Hurricane Sandy, fourteen-year-old Rockaway resident Ariel Creamer founded the organization Survivors Silver Lining, which matches donors with Hurricane Sandy survivors. The mission of the organization is to help children and families replace items lost in the storm and rebuild their lives. Creamer has worked with other hurricane relief organizations to bring and distribute supplies to the Rockaways. Her hope is to continue her work and to bring awareness that the need in the Rockaways is far from over.
Erin Corcoran Daly, Operation Breezy Gut and Pump (Queens, NY)
Erin Daly sprang into action after Hurricane Sandy struck her hometown of Breezy Point. Daly, a Florida state prosecutor, immediately began her relief efforts by collecting donations of generators, sump pumps, tools, food and water, and arrived at the disaster zone with a truckload full of supplies and gasoline. The next day, Daly and off-duty FDNY firefighter Kevin Adams pitched a tent in a field and offered to pump and gut houses for free. Operation Breezy Gut and Pump was born. Kevin recruited fellow FDNY member Phil Pillet, and soon volunteers began showing up by the hundreds. Over the next 36 days, Daly and her crew worked tirelessly day and night, coordinating the integration of federal, state and local resources and matching victims with volunteer groups and relief organizations. Thanks to Operation Gut and Pump’s efforts, over 600 homes in Breezy Point were pumped, gutted and cleaned out free of charge.
Mike “Loco” Hoffman, Boots on the Ground (Staten Island, NY)
His community devastated after Hurricane Sandy, Mike “Loco” Hoffman has contributed to disaster relief and recovery every day since the storm struck. From rescuing stranded and frightened survivors to providing household needs, heaters and generators to gutting and rebuilding homes, Hoffman has been a one-man powerhouse of recovery. He even brought Christmas gifts and cheer to residents by dressing as Santa Claus and driving a decorated truck playing Christmas music through the streets of storm-ravaged neighborhoods. A lifelong resident of Staten Island, Hoffman founded Boots on the Ground Staten Island to put his local knowledge to use and serve as a resource for the thousands of volunteers who arrived to the area. In this way, he is assisting with the formation of an organized at-the-ready volunteer response network as a resource for future disaster victims.
Adam Marlatt, Global DIRT: Disaster Immediate Response Team (New York, NY)
Adam Marlatt is a Marine Reserve infantry sergeant and the founder of Global Disaster Immediate Response Team (DIRT). Using the skills he learned on the battlefield, on a District Stability Team with the U.S. State Department, and with his local volunteer fire department, Marlatt leads his team into the immediate aftermath of disasters to provide technical solutions, medical assistance and coordination support. Founded after the Haiti earthquake of 2010, Global DIRT has deployed to Haiti, Pakistan, New Zealand, Japan and the tri-state area after Hurricane Sandy.
Walter Meyer, Power Rockaway Resilience (Brooklyn, NY)
Together with a group of designers, sustainability experts, and solar engineers, Walter Meyer, an urban designer based in Brooklyn, New York, helped form the community-based organization “Power Rockaways Resilience.” Days after Hurricane Sandy, while gas generators sat idle due to a fuel shortage, the group began delivering hand-built, shopping-cart-sized solar generators to the hardest-hit blocks of the Rockaway peninsula, a barrier island off New York City that bore the brunt of a 14-foot tidal surge topped by three-story-high waves. This small-scale initial effort grew, and with the help of a nationwide fundraising campaign, Power Rockaways Resilience oversaw the widespread installation of large-scale solar generators at relief centers and volunteer hubs. The use of solar power to keep lights shining and helping hands working throughout the darkest days of the storm has inspired peninsula-wide interest in alternative energy technologies. Power Rockaways Resilience is still on the ground connecting solar suppliers and installers with Rockaway businesses and residents seeking to rebuild for a more sustainable, resilient future.
Carolina Salguero, PortSide NewYork (Brooklyn, NY)
PortSide NewYork is a nonprofit in Red Hook, Brooklyn, focused on waterfront issues. Since 2005, the organization has operated from the Mary A. Whalen, an oil tanker on the National Register of Historic Places. After protecting the ship during Hurricane Sandy, they came ashore to help the community of Red Hook. Led by founder Carolina Salguero, PortSide created an aid station that evolved to provide services in response to emerging needs. They provided computer equipment to enable people to apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, organized the work of electrician Danny Schneider who donated his services for free, and set up free legal clinics and a small business recovery center. Based on what they learned, they are now planning programs for Red Hook and the New York City government.
Marcie Allen Van Mol, Beach 119th Street Angels (New York, NY)
Marcie Allen is the president of MAC Presents, a New York City-based sponsorship and fulfillment agency. After Hurricane Sandy, Marcie raised over $100,000 in donations and supplies for families on Beach 119th Street in Rockaway Beach, New York. Allen directed the short documentary film Beach 119 about the families of one block in Rockaway and their recovery.
To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.