Sandy’s heroes: community members helping their own

Photo from this article found in Amsterdam News. Left: President Bill Clinton, right: Milan Taylor

This article from the Amsterdam News features the Rockaway Youth Task Force and the role of community groups in the emergency response efforts after Sandy.  “My motivation, honestly, is that no one else was doing it, and I couldn’t just sit around and allow it to go on. I felt it needed to be done,” said Milan Taylor, President of the RYTF.

The article states that “unpaid volunteers motivated by goodwill and compelled by a sense of community have given up their time and energy to help next-door and across-town neighbors.”


Thanksgiving Dinner in the Rockaways

In a community that was recently devastated by Superstorm Sandy, now more than ever, it’s important for the Rockaway Youth Task Force to show our thanks and appreciation for our community.  Although many in our neighborhood had their homes ruined and their spirits shaken, we are hear to provide comfort and loyalty to our fellow residents by serving food during this Thanksgiving holiday.

Rebuilding our community is an effort that will take years.  Some of our own members were devastated by the disaster.  Some have lost homes, are still without heat and hot water, and travel long hours to school. Serving Thanksgiving dinner is one of many small steps toward our goal of a safe, happy, and stable Rockaway.  In order to help us achieve optimal success, we kindly ask that you, a friend of the RYTF, donate food and volunteer at the event.

As a force within the community, our residents enjoy seeing RYTF out and about making our neighborhoods a safe haven when times are hard.  In the days following the storm, we were able to deliver food, supplies, and other goods to housebound residents.  We teamed up with fantastic organizations to secure medical needs for disabled persons, and coordinated one of the most comprehensive disaster relief efforts on the Peninsula.  Serving Thanksgiving dinner to our neighbors, families, and friends, is our way of thanking them for the continued support they give RYTF.

We hope you join us in our endeavors.  Items needed: Any cooked traditional Thanksgiving Dish (e.g., turkey, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, cranberry sauce)

Milan R. Taylor
Rockaway Youth Task Force

Missing the Mark on Donations

This story was written on Friday, November 9 by Schuster Institute Senior Fellow Hella Winston, who made her fourth visit since Hurricane Sandy to the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, one of New York City’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. Two weeks after the storm, electric power is not restored and residents have abundant needs. Winston writes about what she observed and learned from the people there with whom she spoke.

Cash Donations for Community Groups Now Priority in Recovery Process

On Saturday, volunteers from all over New York City, and the United States gathered in solidarity to canvass the neighborhoods of the Rockaways to assess community needs with local organizers. Community groups involved in the emergency response in the Rockaways are now encouraging individuals, groups and organizations wanting to help to provide cash donations to assist with the long-term recovery process.  Local groups such as the Rockaway Youth Task Force will benefit from continued support in this way, as community-based organizations can build upon their existing assets and knowledge of the community to rebuild the area in a sustainable and culturally appropriate way.

Youth Lead Emergency Response in Housing Developments

The Rockaway Youth Task Force has responded to the devastation in their community by providing emergency response to impacted residents. Since Sandy struck, the group has knocked on over 2,000 doors and has provided food and other emergency supplies to over 700 families in a 10-block radius around their headquarters on Beach 57th Street.

Prior to the hurricane, the group was active in the community helping to raise awareness about stop-and-frisk policies that impact youth in the neighborhood.  When Sandy struck, the group mobilized and is conducting door-to-door needs assessments, with a particular focus on the frail and the elderely. By partnering with Doctors Without Borders, they also are helping to deliver much needed medications to residents.  The group currently has enough supplies, but is in need of volunteers to help with their canvassing.  For more information about the Rockaway Youth Task Force, and to provide donations for their group now and in the future, visit their website at:

How the RYTF began –