By: Portlight, 8:00 AM GMT on December 31, 2012
Operation Restore, our project to aid people with disabilities who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, has begun in New York and New Jersey. Because the damage wrought is so great, the process of clean-up and remediation has been slow, but needs of the community are coming to light every day. We will be replacing durable medical equipment, but in partnership with our friends at BonaResponds, we'll also be helping to muck-out basements and crawlspaces, gut flooded homes, and begin the restoration process.
As we reach out to the local disability community, we've encountered families with children with mobility issues, who've lost everything from chairs and scooters, to ramps and lifts. There are elderly couples whose lifelong homes were destroyed; a mother caring for her grown daughter, whose accessible apartment on the ground level of her mother's home was taken out by floodwaters; and so many more.
As is often the case, it has taken some time for the scope of these needs to come into focus, and they are far greater than we'd even imagined. We will continue to address as many of them as we can in the coming weeks, with more volunteers on the ground as needed. We are building a network within the community and coming together to restore and rebuild. As always, we thank you for your continued support!
Updated: 4:29 PM GMT on January 08, 2013
By: Portlight, 12:34 AM GMT on December 20, 2012
As we announced last week, we'll be working in New York and New Jersey over the next few weeks, replacing lost medical equipment and other disability aids, and funding the re-building of ramps for people with disabilities who suffered damage to their homes from Superstorm Sandy. We're excited to be working again with the great folks from St. Bonaventure College and their outstanding volunteer group, BonaResponds! We thank their fearless leader, Jim Mahar, for his kind words, shared on Facebook earlier today:
Do you know how there are some people/organizations/firms you just can't wait to work with again?
That is how we have felt about Portlight Strategies ever since we collaborated after the Haiti Earthquake to ship wheelchairs and crutches to Haiti. Well wait no more! We are very happy to announce that we will be working with them to help those with disabilities recover from Hurricane Sandy.
We will be teaming up to build ramps, deliver supplies, and whatever else is needed. We will be providing volunteer labor and they will be helping to fund ramp building and more! It is a great thing! VERY excited about it.
So if you know of anyone with a disability that was hit by Sandy (esp in the Rockaway-Breezy Point area) please let us know.
This also means that we need more volunteers! Plan on coming to help. Dec 28 - Jan 8th (?) Stay for the whole time or just a day. But come help (and if you tell us about it in advance it really helps with planning...PLEASE)
Yes you can. No matter what your "skill set" you can help! From driving, to taking pictures, to mucking basements, to building ramps, hanging drywall, cooking, or even installing plumbing, you can help. You will learn new skills and meet great people while helping! So come help!
Sign up at http://BonaResponds.org/
Like Jim said, if you know of anyone affected by the storm who needs help with rebuilding, or with replacement of medical equipment, please pass those needs along to us ASAP!
As always, thank you all for your continued support of our efforts!
Updated: 12:39 AM GMT on December 20, 2012
By: Portlight, 4:25 AM GMT on December 08, 2012
We have just received three substantial grants, from The Kessler Foundation, the Disability Funders Network, and The Robin Hood Foundation. These will allow us to continue with the next phase of our Sandy disaster relief efforts in New York and New Jersey, replacing durable medical equipment and other assistive/adaptive aids.
The Getting it Right Conference
Portlight.org, Brain Dance Foundation and Weather Underground would like to announce the Getting It Right conference, a two-day training conference on shelter accessibility and appropriate disability protocol for disaster shelter operators and first responders, to be held in Atlanta, Georgia in the early spring of 2013.
Arrangements are being made to hold the conference in the Shepherd Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. They have graciously agreed to host the conference for us, and as the largest rehabilitation facility in the world, Shepherd is ideal. They have been at the forefront of some of the greatest disability rights initiatives of the last 30 years, including the 1996 Paralympic Congress, the Spirit of ADA Torch Relay and ADAPT actions. It is a fabulous facility and attendees will see things there they can't see anywhere else.
The importance of this conference cannot be overstated. Despite efforts to address issues of shelter accessibility and disability protocol, the problems remain. They manifest themselves most clearly at what we like to call the retail level: while agency leaders agree to deal with our issues, the breakdowns occur on the ground at the shelters themselves, and with first responders who just do not understand our situations. The conference will focus on training those in the trenches. Our focus will be on minimal, short term accessibility, as much of the problem has been a purist approach, which is simply unattainable. We want to strive for attainable, effective solutions instead of perfection. We want to focus on simple, short term solutions to shelter transportation and accessibility during disaster situations.
The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. The conference has inherent importance but also allows a framework around which to leverage our voice, and allows for targeted publicity opportunities, community building and outreach, a webinar element for those unable to attend, and a final report outlining a way forward.
These are legitimate issues and they can be addressed, and this conference will help to outline the problems as well as provide real world solutions.
Over the coming weeks we will be building a website and tightening the scheduling for the conference; please stay tuned to our website and blog for more information and links.
Updated: 3:47 PM GMT on December 14, 2012