Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New York Volunteer Passionate About Helping People

“If you try it just one day, you’d understand.”

That’s how 28-year-old Zullyvette Feliciano describes volunteering with the American Red Cross.

“Most of my friends don’t volunteer at all and they don’t understand,” she said. “But when you see the appreciation in someone’s face that you’ve helped, it’s out of this world.”

Feliciano, who works full time at a New York hospital, has been a volunteer with the Greater New York Red Cross region for more than two years. Her dedication to public service has even driven her to use her own vacation time to help out in times of disaster.

“I went to Catholic school growing up and always had volunteer projects, so it’s always been a part of me,” Feliciano said. “If you have the ability to help, you should.”

As a volunteer with the Greater New York emergency response team, Feliciano helps people affected by everyday disasters like house fires, providing them with food, clothing, lodging, emotional support and other assistance as needed.

“Everyone is always so warm and grateful for what we do,” she said.

When Superstorm Sandy made landfall, Feliciano navigated her way from her home in the Bronx to regional headquarters in Manhattan to help any way she could. Her dedication prompted her to spend the night on a cot in an empty office cubicle on the building’s fourth floor, along with dozens of other Red Cross volunteers. She awoke the next day to continue volunteering.

As part of a Red Cross team, Feliciano began conducting damage assessments in some of the hardest-hit areas. She also drove a mobile feeding truck through the streets of the Rockaways, distributing food to those who had lost their homes.
“Everyone was so happy to see us,” she said.

Feliciano even pitched in and answered phone calls in the emergency communications center at Greater New York headquarters in the weeks following Sandy. At the time, the center was receiving thousands of calls each day.

Feliciano earned her master’s degree in environmental and occupational health sciences in 2009. Today, she is back at her full-time job, but her passion for helping brings her back to the Red Cross almost every Saturday, where she continues to assist those impacted by everyday disasters like house fires.

“I get way more back than what I give,” Feliciano said.

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