Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks by Giving Back


As we prepare to gather with friends and family on this special day, we wanted to take a moment to recognize some our volunteers who will be spending part of their holiday giving back. Among those offering their time and assistance today is Vincent Stephens from Staten Island. Prior to his shift, we chatted with him about his volunteer work with the Red Cross and what it means for him to offer a helping hand on a day like today.

Where are you from?
VINCENT STEPHENS (VS): I was born in Brooklyn but moved to Staten Island when I was two. I lived in [the neighborhood of] Sunnyside most of my life. I’ve lived in New Spingville for the past three years.

When did you start volunteering for the Red Cross?
VS: I became a Red Cross volunteer in September of 2012. Basically, I wanted to help people, not only on Staten Island, but all over the City.

What is your role?
VS: I’m a DAT [Disaster Action Team] captain. We help people after fires, vacates and other incidents. I oversee a group of volunteers from Staten Island who take shifts to respond, not only in Staten Island, but also City-wide if need be.

How often do you volunteer?
VS: 16-20 hours a week on average. Usually, two to three full Sunday tours [shifts] a month and two to three Mondays a month. But sometimes, even if I’m not on shift and something happens on Staten Island and I’m available, I’ll offer help so a team from Manhattan doesn’t have to. Often, if we hear or see something going on in Staten island, we’ll call in to see if we can respond.

Have you ever volunteered on a holiday before?
VS: I have. I’ve volunteered Easter Sundays, Thanksgivings and Christmas. 

Why do you volunteer on these holidays? 
VS: It’s particularly important for me to help people get back on their feet and find a sense of normalcy on these days. 

Who will be volunteering alongside you on Thanksgiving? 
VS: Two of my Staten Island DAT team members: Dinali Obeysekera and Chris Hojnacki.

Why do you keep coming back as a volunteer? 
VS: To know that you helped someone get to a better place after losing everything.

Along with Vincent, the following volunteers from across the region are also volunteering today: Janice Barnikel, Bob Brander, Chris Hojnacki, Frank Lossmann, Dinali Obeysekera, Marko Orgega, Dennis Patrikios, Mamadou Sall, Terese Schellhorn.

To learn more about volunteering for the Red Cross click here.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see Vincent getting recognized for his service. I'm the Disaster Program Manager for Staten Island and Vincent has been one of the team members that have been serving Staten Island with consistency and passion. Congratulations to Vincent!

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