2013-05-17 / Community

Sandy Volunteer Group Needs Saving

By Katie McFadden

United Peace Relief’s Veterans Green Bus Project, which helped immediately after Sandy, is in need of some help itself.

The Detroit-based United Peace Relief's Veterans Green Bus Project empowers veterans to continue their service by helping communities recover from natural and man-made disasters with sustainable energy solutions which reduce the cost of fuel by up to 90 percent for organizations transporting tools, supplies and volunteers. Right after Sandy hit, they teamed up with Team Rubicon and helped bring supplies and a dozen military veteran volunteer disaster responders to Rockaway.

“Our mission was to gather volunteers, tools and supplies at the Home Depot in Chicago then head to Rockaway, NY. We helped them for the first month then stayed on for another five months to help New York Cares, Americorps, The Conservation Corps and the Friends of Rockaway,” Executive Director Gordon Soderberg said.

Sanitation worker Ed Shevlin reached out to Soderberg for help on behalf of Annemarie Acosta at The Acosta School of Irish Music and Dance in Rockaway. The school lost everything in the storm and needs to replace all of the instruments. Soderberg works with the Roanoke, Virginia-based program, The Feel Good Tour, which gathers and distributes instruments after disasters. Soderberg contacted the group and they held a benefit concert and were able to gather 30 instruments including a violin, three guitars and cases, several flutes and penny whistles.

Soderberg and the Veterans Green Bus left Rockaway to attend the event in Roanoke and to pick up the instruments. However the bus hit a snag when it was making its trip back to Rockaway to deliver the instruments. It caught on fire just a few miles outside of Roanoke. They were able to put the fire out and save the bus and the donations, but the bus stopped operating, leaving it stranded in Virginia.

Soderberg has spent the last month getting the bus fixed, but the Veterans Green Bus Project doesn’t have enough funding to pay for the repairs. They are $1,500 short of the $4,000 bill. Soderberg is hoping to be able to deliver the instruments by Memorial Day, but he can’t do that until they have the proper funding.

“We are a non-profit 501-C3 with a great program and clear mission. We just need the financial support to prove our bus can reduce the cost of transporting trained veteran volunteers, tools and power communications equipment by using sustainable energy solutions,” Soderberg said.

To make a donation, visit unitedpeacerelief.ning.com/, or www.gofundme.com/Veterans-Bus-Fire-Damage, or mail a check to United Peace Relief, P. O. Box 591, Ukiah, CA 95482 on behalf of the Veterans Green Bus Project.

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