COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Jamie Kemmerer made his mark in the post-Sandy cityscape by preparing and delivering meals — thousands and thousands of meals — to victims left destitute by the storm.
Kemmerer and his wife, who began their volunteer efforts by helping with the demolition of flooded houses, started cooking just a week after the storm hit. We started by taking food from our own kitchen and bringing it to disaster areas all over, he said.
Their home-based operation quickly expanded when they joined the ranks of volunteers in the kitchen of St. Johns Episcopal Church in Bay Ridge. Here, the duo was helping to prepare anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 meals every Saturday.
As the months have passed, food provision efforts for victims have moved from large kitchen operations to smaller, more localized ones. And, while the need has certainly decreased, Kemmerer says hes still churning out nearly 900 meals each Saturday.
We need to remember this is a long-term issue, Kemmerer stressed. There are still people living in tents. We cant stop thinking about this after a few months or even years. We have to be thinking about it for the next decade.
To that end, Kemmerer has involved himself with a coalition of churches and community groups trying to set up an infrastructure that could react more efficiently should such storm hit.
I still remember vividly how the way we didnt respond after Katrina, Kemmerer said. When the storm hit our city, I felt we couldnt let that happen. If New Yorks the greatest city in the world, then we have to take care of our own.
FAMILYAND CAREER: Kemmerer is a husband and, since July, a father. He has dubbed his young son Jerome the youngest Sandy volunteer. When delivering food, he took Jerome with him for one purpose. I was there to get food to people, and he was there to make them smile, Kemmerer explained.
While hes earned his stripes as a true New Yorker, Kemmerer isnt a native, actually hailing from Pennsylvania. He met his wife while living in Chicago and relocated to Bay Ridge with her a few years later. Since 2007 hes worked at GEEKPAK, a web development firm.