I know this blog is dedicated to the work of graphic designers, but until my professional and leisure life is restored in NYC, its hard for me to focus on writing about anything else.
Today I decided to volunteer with the reliefs of Hurricane Sandy. Not far from my home is a main supply hub called Occupy Sandy, which is run by the same people and organizations as Occupy Wall Street. So the first thing I did was collect a bag full of needed donations and headed to Sunset Park.
When I got there it was crazy busy, I didn’t know what to do at first until someone yelled they needed people to help unload vehicles dropping off donations. I immediately started grabbing boxes. I later realized I needed to do a quick orientation, not a know-how session but for safety information. After everyone signs up, you get in a long line and wait for your assignment. I was in a line bound for a new kitchen opening in Clinton Hill neededing volunteers to help prepare food until a girl shouted, “Is anyone a graphic designer?”
I was in a line bound for a new kitchen opening in Clinton Hill needing volunteers to help prepare food until a girl shouted, “Is anyone a graphic designer?”
Umm, what? Who would have thought my profession would be helpful at a time like this? I raised my hand and the girl lead me to a crowded room with people answering phones and texts. She sat me at a desk – with a PC. “Shit!”, I thought. She began to explain, she needed this list of questions that would be going to the smaller distribution centers so volunteers at the main hub would know what to send out. It turned out the PC was slow as crap and I had to make it in Microsoft Word. I was nervous, did the best I could, I started thinking… serif for easy reading, large point size for older people, bold the important stuff, leave room to write quickly possibly not on a flat surface and make as many fit up on a letter size piece of paper and print. And of course, there was a paper jam, kill me.
She sat me at a desk – with a PC. “Shit!”, I thought. I had to make it in Microsoft Word. I started thinking, serif for easy reading, large point size for older people, bold the important stuff, leave room to write quickly possibly not on a flat surface and make as many fit up on a letter size piece of paper and print.
After completion I got back in line feeling like a loser, that was not what I was expecting to do today and as a high-end designer it was not my best design work. For my next task I was asked to collect items for a car heading to the Rockaways. I was heading out to a beach side neighborhood far out in Brooklyn/Queens to help out there. I was put in a team with a driver, volunteer/car donate-er and two other people from the volunteer line. We piled up supplies and headed out to see what truly happened to the people in this Hurricane. Trash was piled high on streets from flood damage, the streets where made of mud and sand, the smell of sewage in the air, buildings in ruin, and people waiting in line for donations. It was heart breaking and I had to hold back tears.
We got to our destination donation center and they were full and suggested we go to the next one down the street; there were hubs every 20 streets. The next place needed our drop offs but also needed us to drop their surpluses to the next hub. So we filled up the car again and headed farther out. The last place we landed was the worst and most devastated. I joined an assembly line down a pitch black hallway bringing in goods. We later joined in helping to organize them into piles until there was barely enough daylight.
One of my team members began to ask questions to the head person, they were the questions from the sheet of paper I created earlier that day. Right, my print outs were to go out with all the cars delivering donations. He called into the main hub with the answers to the form for supplies needed for the following day and said, “that was the greatest sheet of paper.”
Smile. Who knew how important that little sheet of paper would be, it was possibly the biggest impact I made all day in the Hurricane Sandy Relief.
For those of you willing to volunteer visit Occupy Sandy Relief’s website to see what they are needing today. If your a Graphic Designer, be sure to mention it and be ready to bring your laptop.