Our schools, our businesses, our town departments that maintain the roads and infrastructure and the village and county police units that patrol our streets all contribute to the quality of life we enjoy here on the South Shore.
In addition to all those dedicated classroom teachers, community-minded merchants and municipal workers, the true spirit of where we live is manifested in our volunteers.
The firefighters who brave the flames to save lives and protect property are great examples of men and women who respond to their neighbors’ needs without thought of recompense. Others who serve their neighbors include the Kiwanians, Hibernians, Rotarians, Lions, Knights, civic associations, veterans’ and religious-group members, hospital volunteers, and all the ad hoc volunteers who spent months helping homeowners tear down their molding walls and clean out their flooded basements after Hurricane Sandy. It was a horrible storm, but it brought forth so many good hearts, strong backs and generous hands.
March is Red Cross Month. The Red Cross of Long Island has more than a thousand volunteers who not only responded in full force during Tropical Storm Irene and Sandy, but are also the ones who come to the scene of house fires in our neighborhoods to help families find temporary shelter and sustenance while they recover from their sudden loss.
Last year, not including Sandy assistance, the Red Cross of Long Island responded to nearly 200 disasters, helping more than a thousand residents, and assisted in nearly 700 armed forces emergency cases. The agency also collected more than 4,000 units of blood, and trained nearly 50,000 people in lifesaving skills.
Sandy saw the largest Red Cross response in more than five years. As of the end of 2013, the Red Cross had spent or made commitments to spend $287 million on Sandy aid to Long Islanders, distributed 2.3 million meals and snacks, handed out 2.5 million relief items, provided 320,000 health and mental health contacts, and provided almost 26,000 shelter stays.