The Long Island Volunteer Center
through a Human Resources Perspective
Kristin Damato, a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz, joined the Long Island Volunteer Center team in June as an intern to fulfill a Summer Disaster Practicum course. This course is part of an internship in psychology with placement emphasis in the field of disaster response/emergency management: (https://faculty.newpaltz.edu/glenngeher/taking-psy-497-internship-in-psychology/).
LIVC was most fortunate to have Kristin on board during a workload transition from long-term recovery to emergency preparedness/disaster planning and thus she was able to participate in, and contribute to, major disaster phases.
To my readers: Hello, my name is Kristin Damato. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the internship program at the Long Island Volunteer Center (LIVC) after my graduation. I graduated from SUNY New Paltz, just like the organization’s late Founder and respected President, Joan Imhof, with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Disaster Psychology. I wanted to explore the field of Disaster Emergency Response and Recovery, and the LIVC was gracious enough to provide all of this for me.
My first encounter with the LIVC was at a volunteer festival meeting on a local college campus, Farmingdale State College. I attended many of these meetings throughout my stay with the organization, and beneficial outcomes always surfaced from each one. Concerns and attention on how to improve, gather, create, and maintain volunteer events and to help disaster victims were a main priority for the LIVC during these meetings. Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (LIVOAD) Volunteer Planning Group/Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) Volunteer Subcommittee Meetings at Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Center were quite informative and much was accomplished because representatives from different counties, towns, and organizations were all present in one room. The goal would always be to come up with future plans, to observe what we needed to improve on, and to continue with what we were doing correctly.
We would travel across Long Island spreading the word about our desire to reach out to vulnerable populations. Outreach was made to an animal shelter in Wantagh organized by Bideawee, a leading pet organization in operation for more than 100 years. We gardened, cleaned up the grounds at their memorial park, created adoption folders, etc. We had a presence at Shinnecock Indian Nation, a Shinnecock Reservation where our disaster emergency kits were handed out to the community. Their Strawberry Harvest Festival organizers welcomed us to set up a table at their event to help spread the word about volunteer opportunities. A very important addition to the LIVC, Elisabeth Muehlemann, coordinated an Emergency Preparedness Festival where the LIVC was able to extend the organization’s efforts outward into the community of Babylon.
A special project I had been in charge of for the majority of my time at the LIVC was the coordination of a free housing fair for people who are still homeless after Superstorm Sandy. Michael Raab, the Storm Recovery Liaison for Nassau County who is a tremendous help to these families, included me in this event. A list containing the names of realtors and brokers was called to inform them about our upcoming event. At the fair, hundreds of families came to speak with the realtors, and although not all of our expected realtors showed, there was a huge recognition of the ongoing need here. That was what we were also aiming for, to demonstrate the still immediate need on Long Island for housing rentals for this population.
The Long Island Volunteer Center has come a long way in the past few years. The organization now has a working and effective website, which has been improved greatly in the last few years. The LIVC started off as an all-volunteer organization working in donated space at the American Red Cross headquarters under Joan Imhof’s leadership and has now developed into an in-demand, busy, web-based organization led by Executive Director, Diana O’Neill. There is much to be proud of on behalf of the hardworking, dedicated, big-hearted staff at the Long Island Volunteer Center.
I want to thank Diana O’Neill and Simone Leo for adopting me into this program and organization. Working with LIVC staff, I have especially seen the immediate need of the people suffering as they go through the process of disaster recovery. I also want to thank Elisabeth Muehlemann, Amanda Glazer, Fran Yellico and Michael Raab for working beside me, teaching me the ropes and being the kind people that they are.
Thank you LIVC!
Disaster Preparedness and Response Intern
About the Long Island Volunteer Center
The Long Island Volunteer Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency working to provide support to, and promote and advocate for, volunteer service on Long Island. We help individuals, families, and groups find volunteer opportunities with partner organizations through our website. LIVC has been assisting with the coordination of volunteers to effectively meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations affected by Superstorm Sandy.