STORY: Hometown Heroes

Written by Tracy Duncan.

Island Park, New York Sandy Relief
Volunteer Norma Himpler prepares food for a resident of Island Park.

It’s not uncommon to see t-shirts and signs with “I heart NY” throughout town. What’s more true is that New Yorkers “heart NY” and are proving that by giving countless hours as Red Cross volunteers.

Bob Rathbone and Sue deBourg have been volunteers with the Mineola Chapter, part of the Greater New York Chapter, of the American Red Cross for years. When Sandy approached, they didn’t wait to see what needed to be done.

“We filled sand bags before the storm hit and then opened shelters as the storm approached,” said Bob Rathbone. “I think we’ve taken 10 days off throughout the disaster.”

Sue and Bob also helped close those shelters as residents were moved to hotels and other temporary housing. They didn’t end their service there, they just moved to another function.

Now Sue and Bob, joined by Norma Himpler, work an ERV route delivering meals to residents in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Norma, 84, is a retired nurse.

While Sue and Norma dish up the food in back, Bob takes to the loud speaker inviting everyone to come out and get a free meal provided by the American Red Cross. He then chats with residents to see how things are progressing in the clean up.

With big smiles and bigger hearts, it’s easy to see how much these three New Yorkers care for their neighbors. Maybe that’s why we all love New York.

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