Become a Fan Follow Us RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘UN staff volunteers’


December 9th, 2012


Once again United Nations Staff Members volunteered their services to assist in the Relief and Restoration efforts organized by the Give Them a Hand Foundation/United African Congress, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook. Our eight-member team gathered at the Visitation Church of the Holy Virgin Mary, the site of the day’s distribution activities, starting before mid-day. There the team met with volunteers and officials from FEMA, the Catholic Charities and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and his organization. Assemblyman Ortiz represents New York’s 51st District which encompasses Red Hook.

From late morning to approximately 2 p.m., our team assisted in bringing out the supplies and food items from storage and setting up two separate distribution points. In one area needy residents could collect supplies including disposable diapers, blankets, cleaning materials and gift bags of nutritional supplies. The second distribution area, staffed primarily by our volunteers, was responsible for distributing the food items including bottled water, many different types of canned foods and ready-meals and boxed/bagged foods, baby food and even food for pets.

To facilitate orderly distribution, the team first made up several hundred bags of food items picked randomly from a number of pallets and stacked boxes donated previously by supermarkets, grocery shops and individuals and charitable organizations.

From 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. our team handed out the bags to the needy persons, many of whom had been waiting in line in the pouring rain from as early as 11 a.m. that morning.

Our team worked tirelessly and diligently and our efforts were highly appreciated by FEMA and the Catholic Charities, who also expressed their pleasure that we stayed the course throughout the day. Their experience is that many volunteers will stop in for an hour or two but then leave, forcing the sponsors to train incoming volunteers throughout the day which often slows the whole process.

Thanks go to the UN Staff (and UN Retirees) for their concern for the welfare of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and for giving their time to this noble cause.

Gordon Tapper

New Dorp, Staten Island, 17 November, 2012

November 17th, 2012

At 9.00 A.M. on Saturday, November 17, the first group of volunteers with GTAH and partners, boarded the Staten Island Ferry in downtown Manhattan, headed for Staten Island. More than 60 volunteers gathered in front of Staten Island Yankee Stadium, a minor league baseball park, waiting to be transported to the site where we would be working on the day. Included amongst the volunteers were, once again, United Nations Staff, Members of the International Buddhist Progress Society, the Bethel Community Church of Staten Island, representatives from the Liberian Community in Staten Island and representatives of the Sierra Leonean Community in Staten Island.

Our key partner on the day was the NYPD Community Affairs Division. With the assistance of some of its leaders on Staten Island – Lieutenant Goodwin and Officer Gianino – they arranged for our team to be transported to the work site in police vans, equipping us with gloves, masks and cleaning materials for the task of clearing debris from houses on Fox Lane in the Oakdale community of Staten Island.

Fox Lane borders on acres of sea grass which helps to separate the homes from the ocean. Many of the homes and properties we entered were choked with this grass which came in with the sea surge that flooded rooms that were, in some cases, 15 feet off the ground. Some of our volunteers worked on one house for the entire day, clearing out an unending supply of wet and ruined clothing, furniture and other items while preserving some items for further use by the owners. The residents of the devastated area certainly did not expect their good fortune to have so many hands turning up at their doors to help. They were overwhelmed and expressed their gratitude by providing water and buying pizza and sandwiches for everyone during a break period. Other team members working in groups went door to door offering assistance as needed and simply pitched in. One such group filled a container with debris while another helped to rip up the flooring of a house being gutted for eventual rehabilitation.

The email below from my colleague Mohammed Nurhussein, Chairman of the United African Congress, to the volunteers best sums up this experience:

“Dear Fellow Volunteers,

A gorgeous mosaic that is New York was in evidence today when a diverse group of volunteers composed of UN Staff, Immigrants of various nationalities and faiths, young and old, men and women descended on Staten Island to lend a helping hand to fellow New Yorkers adversely affected by the super storm Sandy. It was deeply gratifying for me to have been part of this uniquely human manifestation of solidarity and empathy, New Yorkers helping New Yorkers in need. We helped home owners whose houses were flooded all the way to the second floor. We took out wet moldy clothing items in garbage bags, removed soggy mattresses, furniture, dinning and kitchen items, bookshelves, tables, and emptied the attic of all its contents, helped clean up the mess on the floors. The home owners were touched by the gesture and took pictures of us and with us. Despite their loss, we were able to see that we managed to bring some comfort and respite as well as a smile to their faces. That was the ultimate reward for us. There was a warm camaraderie among us as we all cheerfully took part in what was at times a physically demanding work. Our work in Red Hook last Monday was also a similar experience and we hope to replicate this next week in Far Rockaway

To all volunteers, the coordinators and particularly the super coordinator, the unflappable Gordon Tapper who managed to pull this off, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for a job well done. The United African Congress is proud and honored to be one of the organizations of this unique coalition.

With my best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving,

Mohammed A Nurhussein, MD, Chairman, United African Congress”


Thanks to the leadership provided by:

Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein, Chairman of the United African Congress

Sidique Wai, President of the United African Congress and Senior Advisor to the NYPD Commissioner.

The Venerable Chueh Chen, Abbess of the International Buddhist Progress Society

Imam Shamsi Ali, Director of the Al-Hikma Mosque in Astoria, Queens

Famod Konneh, Chairman of the African Advisory Council

Passynna Bulabula, Secretary of the African Advisory council

Mamadou Kone, President of the African Day Parade Committee

Ahmed Dean Kargbo, President of the Sierra Leone National Association

William Wade, President of the Liberian Association.


Gordon Tapper

Become a Fan Follow Us RSS Feed