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Helping Others Get Through The Devastation

YES CCC, Massapequa Schools Personnel Helping To Aid In Recovery From Storm

When things are at their worst, that’s when special people are at their best. Massapequans have seen the best in each other during times of crisis, and are doing so again in the days following the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to the area. The paraprofessionals, secretaries and teachers of Massapequa have reached out to the New York State Teachers Union (NYSUT), and in conjunction with YES Community Counseling Center are working to help those who were affected by the storm.

“As a community-based agency, we feel a very strong responsibility to do whatever we can,” said Jamie Bogenshutz, executive director of YES.

The school personnel set up a website, helpmassapequa.org so that donations may be made to raise revenue for gift cards and supplies that are needed by area residents who lost so much. They also reached out to NYSUT and soon afterward, two vans of pet food, cleaning products, paper towels, gloves, bleach, heaters and other needed supplies were on their way to YES for distribution.

“They’re just an amazing group of people,” Bogenshutz remarked about the school personnel who coordinated the effort.

Soon a tractor-trailer was set up behind the offices of YES to distribute the supplies to those in need. For those who wish to help out, Bogenshutz says that donations can be made on the helpmassapequa.org website, or by contacting YES by phone at (516) 799-3203 or by visiting the center at 75 Grand Avenue. Additionally, the executive director says that although YES is not accepting clothing donations at this time, donations of needed items such as food, household cleaning supplies, gloves, paper towels, school suppliers, toiletries, toilet paper, paper towels, duct tape, and batteries are appreciated. Those who wish to make a monetary donation may also give money or gift cards so that victims may use the donations for items they know they need, rather than what others think they might need.

“The wonderful thing about living in this community is it’s a strong healthy community and people are loving and kind and that’s what will get everybody through this,” commented Bogenshutz. “It’s getting through these next few weeks with people living without power and heat, and homes that have burned down.”

YES CCC is coordinating with social workers in school districts, to get the donations to the families who need it most. In addition, the center is working to help in other ways. Bogenshutz says that YES has offered its building to other agencies that were damaged by the storm, so that counseling and support services could continue for those who need it in other communities. In addition, Bogenshutz says that YES is there to provide services to those who need it to get through the destruction the storm brought to the area, including critical emotional support services.

“The emotional support is very important,” she says. “We have to make sure that people get connected and get straight information.”

Bogenshutz says that YES staff have found that simple conversations with local residents can quickly turn into tearful recounts of how much has been lost. She also adds that it’s important that parents understand how difficult this experience may be for children. According to Bogenshutz, parents should realize that it is normal for children to be afraid to walk by trees or water in the aftermath of the storm. She also adds that adults should take care of themselves as well as they cope with the devastation the storm brought.

“In order to care of your children, you must take care of yourselves,” she advises. “Take a break from work, go to a place that gives them some comfort. I think a lot of people are tired of hearing that it could have been worse. For some it’s as bad as it can be. The hope is tomorrow will be a little better than today was. Take time to breathe, relax, eat a nice hot meal and they should not lose sight of what they do have. Remember that they have gotten through crises before.”

Those who were affected by the storm are encouraged to call YES CCC for help, whether they need services or tangible supplies. For more information about YES, log on to www.yesccc.org.