Is money for Sandy victims just sitting in the bank?
Running a charitable organization is no easy feat. Ask any of our local volunteers or employees of a non-profit and they will tell you the job is filled with long hours; scores of unfortunate individuals; paperwork; auditing; and lines and lines of red tape.
However, in the wake of disaster, those organizations must work quickly to help those in need.
The Red Cross, which has helped millions in its 132 year-old history, is a great organization. From single-person tragedies to large scale disasters, the Red Cross has done much to help our friends and neighbors. It does seem, though, that the Red Cross needs to do a little better by the people of the East Coast who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Donors gave $188 million to the Red Cross, specifically for Sandy aid but $78 million of that is still sitting in a bank. Yes, the federal and state governments will be putting out billions to restore the areas affected by Sandy. But many Americans gave money to help the individuals who suffered because of the storm and we would like to know why our money is not being used.
According to a Yahoo! News article, because the Red Cross was delayed in reaching some of the areas most impacted by Sandy, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro cautioned New Yorkers in a press conference to not donate to the Red Cross.
“They were in desperate need,” Molinaro said of residents. “Their housing was destroyed. They were crying. Where was the Red Cross? Isn’t that their function?”
The Red Cross is now doing a “community by community” assessment of the long-term needs of Sandy survivors, according to Anne Marie Borrego, spokeswoman for the agency. As fewer people need the basics of food and shelter, the agency will begin shifting to a new phase in the relief effort, Borrego said, such as operating clinics to help survivors navigate the recovery process, from filing insurance claims to finding child care.
“Typically during these kinds of disasters our No. 1 priority is that immediate response,” Borrego said. “We’re there doing the sheltering and the feeding, etc. In this case, when we’ve raised money that will take us beyond that response, we’re working with communities to determine unmet needs.”
In the past, the Red Cross has focused on making sure disaster survivors have access to mental health services, and Borrego said such assistance may also become a focus for the group in the next few months. The Red Cross has also given grants to smaller nonprofits and social service agencies after past disasters, though Borrego said no decision has been made yet on whether to do that this time around. She said the full plan will be released soon.
Unfortunately, many Sandy victims cannot wait on “soon.” They have needs that should be met now and the people who chipped in some of the $78 million waiting in the bank would like to see that money put to good use.
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