Kim Skillen, President of Neighbors Helping Neighbors/Babylon gave an overview of the organization’s mission and activities at our regular meeting on Wednesday, October 24th.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to transforming Neighborhoods by building the community’s strength. They are first responders with immediate disaster relief kits and food after disaster strikes.
The organization is dedicated to building a strong, functional team of volunteers who can respond to the needs of people at a time of disaster, and providing education within our community about the importance of disaster preparedness.
The organization was born in 2012 from the requirement to coordinate efforts of support groups and agencies in response to overwhelming needs of local families devastated by the ravages of Superstorm Sandy.
They began by setting up the First Presbyterian Church in Babylon Village as the main collection point for much needed food, clothing, and supplies. Kim emphasized the impact of social media on broadcasting the need, and the tremendous response, receiving donated supplies from near and far.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors took on the daunting task of coordinating collection and distribution of supplies, contributions from dozens of local organizations, and volunteers from all over Long Island long before the Red Cross or FEMA showed up. They then networked to provide information and contacts between local and government relief agencies and families in need.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was so impressed with the effectiveness of spontaneous local efforts, and coordination by Neighbors Helping Neighbors, they designated the organization as the first COAD (Community Organizations Active In Disasters) on Long Island. This opened the door to new grant resources, and provides the framework for structured coordination of labor and resources of community civic and support organizations to provide relief to those affected by natural and other disasters.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors, centered in the First Presbyterian Church, are now the COAD for the Town of Babylon, and are still helping people cope with smaller scale calamities and to get through other personal and family misfortunes.
Kim was the guest of Past President Megan Noble; they’re shown above with Babylon Rotary Co-President Scott Lockwood.