Monday, January 18, 2010

Aiding The Haiti Relief Effort On Long Island

From Elmont East, LIers Open Hearts, Wallets
Elmont Haitian Community Kick-Off Haiti Earthquake Relief Drive

Surrounded by hundreds of Elmont residents, Bishop Fernando Rodriguez, Reverend Alan Ramirez, students from Elmont Memorial High School and Haitian community leaders, Assemblyman Tom Alfano kicked off a Haiti Earthquake Relief effort with the Elmont Schools and Elmont Memorial High School on the front lawn of Elmont Haitian leader David Duchatelier.

The gathering to kick off the food, clothing and medical supply drive attracted hundreds drove and walked blocks to come and listen to the logistics of the operation being outline by Alfano, Duchatelier and Bishop Rodriguez in Elmont on Friday. Police cars blocked streets and the Elmont Fire Department brought personnel and an engine to show their support of the effort. Crowds gathered, prayed and talked about the tragedy that has touched thousands personally throughout Elmont and the greater area.

Alfano called the drive an effort where people are helping people in a time of tragedy. “The Haitian and Caribbean community in Elmont has been deeply moved by this crisis and won’t sit idly by and watch television and do nothing. It’s efforts like this where we show what a strong, vibrant and caring community Elmont is. Again, the young people in Elmont lead the way and show us all by their work in this effort,” said Assemblyman Alfano.

Word of the food drive was spread by word of mouth, fliers walked by residents in neighborhoods, Facebook, the Elmont School District, Elmont Soccer Club and Elmont Memorial High School. The streets around Renfrew Avenue in Elmont were packed with people dropping off supplies, coming to listen and lend a hand. Throughout the weekend volunteers packed barrels, collected items, donations and clothing to be sent to orphanages in Haiti.

Joining Alfano at the press conference was Bishop Fernando Rodriguez, Reverend Alan Ramirez, Haitian officers of the Nassau County Police Department, Elmont Fire Department Assistant Chief Prince, Elmont Memorial High School students, Key Club, SADD, County Legislator John Ciotti, Councilman Ed Ambrosino, Supt. Al Harper, Supervisor Kate Murray, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, former Elmont School Board Vice-President Elsy Mecklembourg Guibert, Elmont Soccer Club VP Richard DeBrosse, Sandy Smith representing Senator Dean Skelos, Elmont East End Civic President Pat Nicolosi and CCC President Joyce Stowe.

The crisis has caught worldwide attention which Assemblyman Alfano has called “a tragedy that has united people throughout the world.” Alfano led a similar food drive last year to address the starvation crisis in Haiti where 40 barrels of food, clothing and medical supplies were sent to Haitian orphanages throughout the country.

At the kick-off, well over 40 barrels of clothing alone were collected and nearly 50 barrels of food and medical supplies have been collected so far. According to Assemblyman Alfano, Dutch Broadway, Alden Terrace, Covert Avenue, Stewart Manor, Gotham Avenue and Clara H. Carlson schools have collected “classrooms full of supplies” to be sent.

Former Elmont School Board Vice-President Elsy Guibert spoke out and encouraged the community to continue to work on the drive and discussed how her son is in Haiti and his staying on the island to help rebuild the country. Guibert had left Haiti just hours before the earthquake hit and lost family members in the earthquake. “For a whole day I couldn’t call my son and I prayed. He’s safe and I have talked with him. He hs written to me and told me that he feels he needs to stay in Haiti to help. I’m very proud of him and know that he will make a difference.”

Bishop Fernando Rodriguez said, “this effort put together by Assemblyman Alfano and Elmont Memorial and the Elmont school district is truly moving. The young people out in this audience have no idea the impact they will have on a child.”

Reverend Alan Ramirez added, “we are working together to make a difference and the young people in Elmont are showing us the way.”

SUNY Stonybrook student and Elmont Memorial graduate Vladimir Crevecoeur talked about the feeling of helplessness that many people have felt in this tragedy in wanting to help. Crevecouer related that he has lost family members from the earthquake and wanted to be a part of the effort that has truly taken off in Elmont. “This effort today truly reflects the saying on the flag of Haiti which translated in english is ‘strength through unity’ and I want to thank our schools and my friend Tom Alfano for making this happen.”

“Elmont is the home of thousands of Haitian Americans who wanted to do something. They wanted to get involved and this grassroots effort has mobilized everyone from the kindergartner at Dutch Broadway School to the Junior in Elmont Memorial High School. People have been coming here all afternoon from every walk of life to drop off things because they wanted to help. That’s why this driveway is filled and the backyard is packed, Alfano said.

Senator Dean Skelos said, “I’m very proud to be a part of the effort being spearheaded by the Elmont Schools and Assemblyman Alfano. The supplies colected will help countless people in Haiti. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost a loved one and are still waiting to hear from others.”

County Executive Ed Mangano said, “the effort in Elmont being organized by the schools and Assemblyman Alfano is unbelievable. The response is incredible and Nassau County will be there to help transport and assist this effort in any way possible.”

County Legislator John Ciotti said, “this is an outstanding show of community support for our Haitian neighbors. I’m proud to not only lend a hand to the food and clothing drive, but will continue to work with Assemblyman Alfano on this humanitarian effort.”

The food drive is a collective effort that will entail collections in schools, churches and local businesses throughout the area. To make donations, simply drop off food, clothing and medical supplies to Elmont schools, Elmont Memorial High School or Assemblyman Tom Alfano’s office.

“The effort so far has been extraordinary,” said Principal John Capozzi of Elmont Memorial High School. “We’re really making a difference. I want to thank all of the students at Elmont Memorial, Assemblyman Alfano and the community for being so supportive of this effort during this crisis.”

Councilman Ed Ambrosino noted, “we wanted to help and this is a great way to do it. Our thoughts and prayers are with Haiti now and I want to thank the community for this incredible outpouring of support.”

"I want to thank Assemblyman Tom Alfano and the Elmont Schools for working closely with our local Haitian community and all of those who are committed to helping our Haitian brothers and sisters who are suffering in the wake of a heart wrenching tragedy," said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin noted, “At a time of such a horrific event, I am proud to stand with the entire Elmont community to extend our prayers and provide whatever assistance we can.”

Assemblyman Alfano noted that donations are needed but certain staples are needed more than others. “Our prime emphasis in this collection is to collect two basic meal staples that are desperately needed- rice and beans. Additionally, medicine like aspirin, band aids and simple first aid supplies are what is critically needed. That is what we need the most and I hope that residents will respond with,” Alfano said adding, “if you can’t donate that’s ok too, but you can still say a prayer for the people of Haiti.”

Residents who want to get involved with the effort should contact Assemblyman Alfano’s office at 437-5577, or through Facebook (simply friend request Tom Alfano), or email him at
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Do we detect an air of political opportunism from some of the elected who so gladly jump on the bandwagon (or go only so far as to snare a soundbite on a press release)?  Of course, but at least it's for a good cause!

Pick up your cell phones and text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Haitian relief effort of the American Red Cross. The donation will appear on your cell phone bill.
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Just so you don't think we totally ignore or have complete disdain for the right (tea parties notwithstanding), here's a piece about what Mike Huckabee (of Fox) had to say:

Mike Huckabee, past and likely future candidate for president of the United States, has praised American efforts in and for Haiti, and lashed out at critics and enemies of the United States who stand by and do nothing. The former Arkansas governor's remarks brought out in bold relief how Israel’s disproportionate aid to Haiti is ignored by the world.

Speaking on his FoxNews television program, Huckabee noted that “once again, in the face of a horrible human tragedy, it’s Americans who show up first, do the most, and expect the least in return.”

“When it comes to a time of human tragedy,” Huckabee continued, “it’s the United States that will export its most precious commodity – its generosity. Within hours of the horrific earthquake that hit Haiti, Americans were pouring record donations into the relief efforts… The U.S. military dispatched ships, planes and thousands of personnel… American relief workers lined up to go to Haiti and risked death and disease to help people they don’t even know.”

“I realize that other countries are helping and providing resources – but the next time some pipsqueak punk politician like Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez or Iran’s nut job of a president Ahmoud Medinajad  whines about how evil we are, we ought to tell them to put up or shut up.”

“… When the earthquake struck, American went to Haiti. As for our critics, they can go to hell.”
As for Israel’s relief efforts to Haiti, they include the following: A field hospital, the only hospital in operation, with 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward. The hospital can treat approximately 500 patients each day, and in addition will perform preliminary surgeries. A search-and-rescue team, which has rescued about five people from under the rubble. 220 personnel in total. Dozens of truckloads of medical and logistical equipment Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, one of the richest countries in the world, has sent a message of condolence to Haitian President René Préval. Some Arab countries have “pledged” help, such as $1 million pledged from both Kuwait and Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates says it will “shortly” send a plane with humanitarian assistance. Qatar, with the third largest gas reserves and the second highest GDP per capita in the world, has dispatched 50 metric tons of aid to the hundreds of thousands of homeless and injured Haitians.

Latest reports are that the IDF Medical Corps have treated some 200 injured people in Haiti, performed ten life-saving surgeries and saved the lives of 140 others. On Sunday night, a resident of Port-au-Prince gave birth to a boy at the Israeli field hospital. In appreciation and gratitude, his mother decided to name her new son “Israel” in honor of the country that helped her.

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