Lauren Fiore, a social work graduate student at LIU Post, has been helping victims of Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach. She volunteered there for a couple of days during the hurricane and volunteered in Bayport during Thanksgiving weekend. Fiore says she plans on continuing to volunteer in Long Beach. “After Hurricane Sandy struck, words could not describe the emotions and overwhelming feelings of sadness I had for both the victims and survivors whose lives were affected by this natural disaster,” said Fiore.
She did not just donate or volunteer through an organization like others; she did it on her own. “I chose to bring donations on my own and not work through an organization because I knew that people were in crisis and needed direct service and attention,” Fiore said. She revealed that she was compelled to do something after speaking to a friend who had to evacuate from her home in Long Beach. “With a bachelor’s degree in social work [from LIU Post], I knew there were people in great need and I wanted to put my knowledge to work. I knew I had the skills, and I knew I had the ability to execute them appropriately,” said Fiore.
She wanted to do everything possible to help. “I got right onto the City of Long Beach’s website, a town that is particularly special to me because of its beautiful beaches and atmosphere, and checked for daily updates regarding the most requested items and other important information such as curfews and safety,” said Fiore. She also contacted a firefighter from the area that she knew from a previous job so she could find out more information on how to help. “I started collecting and purchasing donations at my job [in a chocolate shop called Sweet Gourmet] in Sayville, and in just two short days had filled up two truckloads worth of water, clothing, and cleaning supplies,” said Fiore. During Hurricane Sandy, bottled water was the most needed since the water in Long Beach’s water system was not safe to use. “I had one truck full of water and pulled up to strangers’ houses and offered them cases—they needed it, and it was the least I could do,” Fiore said.
Fiore also inspired others to help the victims in Long Beach. She contacted the president and vice president of the undergraduate Social Work Club at LIU Post through their Facebook page. She informed them that they could help the victims by first individually collecting donations and then as a group when classes resumed. They started collecting donations right away and set up days and times to volunteer at the Ice Arena. “I coordinated with family and friends to bring donations to the Long Beach Ice Arena, which has since been transformed into a mini Costco,” said Fiore. She also volunteered at the Ice Arena by organizing donations and giving out cleaning supplies.
“I chose to bring donations to Long Beach because of the connection I have with its beautiful beaches and residents,” Fiore said. Numerous locations in New York and Long Island were damaged in the hurricane. “Long Beach sustained some of the most significant damage on Long Island. News media simply cannot capture the destruction in its entirety,” said Fiore.
“The hurricane was the first significant worldly event I experienced as an adult,” she said. During the hurricane, Fiore did not experience any damage to her home in Sayville that she has lived in her whole life. The power remained on at her house and her family remained safe as well.
“There was no conscious decision to help; the thoughts were how to make help available successfully,” said Fiore. She said she saw a woman with five children in her car after evacuating her home and it was crucial to help her as soon as possible. After she and her children evacuated, the hurricane destroyed their home. Fiore said she wanted to do more for those in need after talking with this woman.
“I saw hundreds of people in desperate need of assistance; the desire to help was innate. I believe that is part of the reason I chose the field of work I have,” said Fiore. She is graduating this May from the Advanced Standing Program at LIU Post. Fiore said she hopes to move to Long Beach where she can find a job in the social work field working with children and families.