RED HOOK — A new initiative is looking to create a neighborhood support system of volunteers to help Red Hook's senior and infirm residents in times of need.
Through the system, known as Red Hook Check-In, a network of volunteers would call on older or medically fragile Red Hook locals every three months. This would allow volunteers to make sure these residents were prepared for seasonal concerns, from heat waves to hurricane season and snow storms, said Aran Baker, one of the lead organizers behind the program.
So far the project has been allocated $30,000 in funding by local Councilman Carlos Menchaca for next financial year and they are working with Friends of Community Board 6 as a fiscal sponsor, Baker said. They also received an in-kind donation of props and furniture from Ikea and food from Fairway Market.
Red Hook Check-In is currently under development but Baker hopes to launch a small pilot program next spring. Over the summer, workshops in the neighborhood were held to iron out details of the system and tailor it to the community's needs.
"It's crucial that this really be built around resident feedback," said Baker, a designer and urban practitioner who teaches at Parsons School of Design.
Baker began to develop the program after Hurricane Sandy with Matthew Kraushar, who joined a volunteer medical relief effort in Red Hook after the storm hit the neighborhood hard.
The deadly storm swept through Red Hook in Oct. 2012 and left a devastating impact on the neighborhood as most tenants of NYCHA's Red Hook Houses lost electricity and heat for weeks.
Local medical services, such as clinics and pharmacies, were unable to operate and medically fragile individuals "became isolated from the hospital and 911-emergency systems without a preexisting mechanism to identify or treat them," Kraushar co-wrote in a report on the community-led medical response.
"At the time, there was no system like this in place," Baker said. "We realized with the geographic isolation of Red Hook, we really needed a community-based network."
And though the idea was conceived out of strengthening disaster preparedness, that isn't the only goal, she added. Organizers are hoping the network will help Red Hook residents address day-to-day concerns and needs as well.
A public meeting is slated to take place in October and more workshops will be conducted over the fall. For updates, check Red Hook Check-In's Facebook page.