Our History

Using E-mail List, Shulock Finds 3,000 Volunteers

Monday, November 5, 2001

Her easygoing trendy life in Manhattan forever transformed on Sept. 11, an unemployed dot-com writer places her e-mail list and her technological savvy in the service of the Red Cross and other agencies providing disaster relief.

Rebuilding New York--Women at Ground Zero

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--An unemployed woman living in the Silicon Alley scene here suddenly found herself in the week of Sept. 11 placing all her Internet and technical savvy at the service of the Red Cross and the United Way, two very old-fashioned but vital rescue agencies. Neither she nor the agencies are likely to ever be the same.

Like many who worked in Manhattan's dot-com industry, Eileen Shulock had been unemployed since May after being laid off as a vice president for the Knowledge Strategies Group. She filled some of her time as the unpaid director of the New York chapter of Webgrrls International, an organization that serves as a virtual and actual meeting ground for women interested in using the Web. But basically she had spent the summer slacking--the industry's term for taking it easy.

By the Monday after Labor Day, she had decided to get serious about finding a job and even bought a paper-based appointment book to help her in job-hunting personal networking.

When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, Shulock was in her Greenwich Village apartment she shares with her husband and dog, preparing to leave for a brainstorming session with another unemployed new media writer.

In a split second, she decided that neither slacking nor job hunting was for her--she had to help. After being turned away as a blood donor--as many were at first--she came up with a better idea.

With her blond hair fashionably streaked and tousled, her eyes peering out of square eyeglass frames, she sips a Diet Coke in a downtown cafe and recalls the moment when she realized her role in the rescue effort.

She E-mailed Webgrrls, Set Up Internet Volunteer Service

"I had to find something to do," Shulock says. After phoning the Red Cross to find out the details on volunteers still needed, she e-mailed her list of 4,000 tech-savvy New York Webgrrls, asking if they would donate their technical skills or anything else to help out the Red Cross.

And then she got back to the Red Cross, and said, "You've got a list of 4,000 Webgrrls at your service."

Within minutes, the Red Cross technology department called her and asked, "'Can you really have 10 people here in an hour?'"

Shulock found many, many more than 10. Within three days, she received more than 600 phone calls from Webgrrls who wanted to help.

"My list was full of technical people who knew how to act as project managers with little or no direction," says Shulock.

"The Red Cross really needed people to help out in a technical way. They had thousands of volunteers, but they needed people who could do data entry and process papers on line. They also needed people who they didn't need to explain how to operate a computer or how to go through the thousands and thousands of e-mails the Red Cross received after Sept. 11."

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Within days, the United Way called--also in need of technical help in volunteer placement.

Her days of slacking, or even having use for a paper-based calendar, were over.

Her life became filled with ringing phones, full voice-mail boxes and a constant barrage of e-mails as Shuluck aimed to connect volunteers with needs in the wake of the terrorist attack that left as many as 4,400 dead, missing and presumed dead.

Studied at Fashion Institute of Technology, Worked for Ann Taylor

Shulock's sense of community might have sprung from her small-town origins. She is the youngest of three children who grew up in Jeanette, Penn., just 40 miles away from the site where the third hijacked plan crashed. Shulock was drawn to New York just out of high school to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Eileen ShulockAfter graduation, she spent eight years working for Ann Taylor in its merchandising department, charged with forecasting trends in the fashion industry. She left the retail business and searched for a way to pursue her interest in new media. That led to her joining Webgrrls--then a small group of like-minded women.

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