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Home for disaster relief volunteers receives grant from First Lady’s charity

15 Apr 2013

Home for disaster relief volunteers receives grant from First Lady’s charity

Posted by with - in 2013
 mary-pat-christie-hurricane-relief-fund.jpgFirst Lady Mary Pat Christie talks about the grants the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has distributed so far after touring a hub for disaster relief volunteers in Point Pleasant Beach today.

For a week at a time, dozens of volunteers assisting with disaster relief along the Jersey Shore call the second floor of the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church’s education annex home.

With a grant from the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, church officials hope to make that space a bit more comfortable.
The charity, which is chaired by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, awarded the church $31,300 to help renovate the bathrooms, among other upgrades, in a round of grants distributed earlier this month. The Rev. Carl Wilton led Christie on a tour today of the church’s facilities, which can sleep up to 36 volunteers on bunk beds.

“You want your volunteers to have good sleep,” she said as she toured the cordoned off area that serves as the women’s dormitory. “You cannot underestimate the importance of that.”

Christie said the relief fund has raised $34 million so far. The donation to the church was part of a round of grants from the relief fund that, in total, delivered $3.7 million to 15 organizations. The fund awarded $1 million to county-based, long-term recovery committees in February and Christie said the charity plans to distribute another $6.3 million by the end of the month.

Frank Jones, who helps coordinate the volunteers who stay at the church’s facilities, said volunteers have primarily focused on helping homeowners in Ocean County, including Point Pleasant Beach, Brick and Toms River.

“We started within our own congregation but then we’ve branched out,” Jones said. Starting in the beginning of May, Jones said the facility is “booked solid” every week through the summer and into the fall.

The building currently doesn’t have showers on site — local gyms have opened their doors to volunteers — but another grant from the Robin Hood Relief Fund is helping to pay for construction of those facilities, church officials said.

This week volunteers with Lend a Hand, a nonprofit disaster response group based out of Camp Hill, Pa., was staying at the church annex. Peter Farwell, who is the Hurricane Sandy recovery coordinator for the church as well as a member of Ocean County’s long-term recovery committee, said the group plans to return one week every month to help the shore recover.Russ Weer, a retired teacher and volunteer with Lend a Hand, said he was on his third trip to the Jersey Shore since Sandy hit.

“I enjoy doing this and really when you do it once, you get so much out of it that you want to do it again,” Weer said, adding that this trip won’t be his last.

“I’ll be back,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

Erin O'Neill | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comBy Erin O’Neill | NJ Advance Media for 
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on April 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM


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