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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Roosevelt Island Residents Continue To Bring Assistance To Rockaways Head Start School Damaged By Hurricane Sandy - Improvements Starting To Be Seen

Image of Roosevelt Island Donations Being Delivered to Rockaways From Isa Abdul

Here's the latest update on efforts of Roosevelt Island residents to donate and deliver supplies to people living in the Rockaways devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  As in previous weeks, donations are collected in front of PS/IS 217 Sunday mornings

Image From Karine Wong

and delivered to the Community and Family Head Start program

Image From Isa Abdul

on Monday. Karine Wong, who organized Roosevelt Island Hurricane donations and deliveries to the Rockaway, sends the following update yesterday:
For the Roosevelt Island community that has been participating in support of the Community Parents Head Start program in the Rockaways.

Just wanted to let everyone know a few things;

The kids will be back in school next week. A significant step in the community as you might imagine.

Sunday collection has been terrific.

Image From Karine Wong

Monday distribution has been even better.

This plan will be changing soon because the school hopes to be in session. We are trying to confirm what will work for the school in terms of dropping off collected materials. We believe that we will continue to drop off on Mondays. We do know that this is only the beginning of change and improvement, let us continue to find the focus and continue our efforts through these trying times.

The specific lists of things are really important, please remember to help with a purpose and follow the guidelines. It isn’t of course an opportunity to empty out closets.

People have recognized that this process has made an impact at the school and in the community around the school. The school community now refers to the Roosevelt Island community as their Roosevelt Island Family.

We know that there are families who are warmer and a bit less hungry from our efforts. We know that the school is getting cleaned up and that life is starting to move along again in the neighborhood. We know that a community wondering how they were going to make it to the next week is starting to try and figure out what might lie beyond. Perhaps a sliver of hope is a biggest gift.

Here is something that no one would have ever guessed would happen, the community with less need is gaining in unimaginable ways. Many people from all over Roosevelt Island have come each week and brought something. Each time they drop something off, they get a little news from the Rockaways and they know that in a very isolated and small way they have made a difference.

Image From Karine Wong

We have had people come from all over, walking by, stopping in cars, by coincidence, planned all week, just because…we have had people tell us that they are bringing us clothes held and cherished, from loved ones lost, but given because they knew that someone in the Rockaways needed to be warmer and the ones lost would have wanted to help. We have had people bring toys and books, lots of books, and one bear from a child who's now a mother, to help keep a child who had lost everything in their world company.

Through all of these gifts the people on both sides benefit. The recipient knows that someone cares. The provider knows that they can make some small change. Everyone gains in the knowledge that people care and that hope can exist. Everyone gains knowing that a difference can be made and that lives can move on. Nothing forgotten, everyone is better for the effort and as a result the world can be a better place with efforts like these.

Please stay tuned as this situation develops and we find out what these children and their families really need to keep on the path of moving on. Please stay tuned and know that your efforts have made the world a little bit better and someone on the other end really does appreciate what you have done.

Isa Abdul and her family offered to be our "elves" this week and went to the Rockaways this morning to deliver all your "goodies" to our families in need. See their photos attached and the note I just received from Isa.

A big thank you to them.

We will meet again next sunday between 8 and 9 am in front of PS 217.
Hi Karine!

Today went well. We zipped in and as usual, the employees (including contractors that were working to renovate the school for use). It was wonderful to see that the school now has power

 Image From Isa Abdul

and so much has been done in the area. They are busily cleaning and getting ready for the children that will be heading their way by Monday!

If you recall, a few short weeks ago, we drove down and through some of the side streets just near the school and saw the disaster that was all around. As we drove to the school, we watched bulldozers,

Image From Isa Abdul

backhoes and other heavy equipment carrying things off. Now, while the area still has quite a long road ahead of them, there is a semblance of order. Much of the debris that was scattered in front of many homes

Image From Isa Abdul

and lining the sidewalks/streets of Beach Channel Drive has been carted away. The presence of the National Guard has been replaced by various Electric Company trucks from far and wide! We saw trucks from nearby Rhode Island and not so nearby Florida ~ the workers were busily working to restore electricity to this hard hit area! It was very noticeable as so many traffic lights were brightly lit and even some of the businesses were up and running!

Sadly, though there are many businesses still suffering, their gates tightly shut, their future bleak. It is because of this that we stopped for lunch in the area. Trying to do our share for the area's economy. Granted, our $30 lunch is but a small drop in the bucket. While lunching, we saw FEMA workers and struck up a conversation. We talked about how far the area has come and how much more work there is ahead. As we all know, the area is mixed and many people are lower to mid income families. So many of the poor will receive assistance, however, the middle class is hardest hit. These people may not necessarily be insured, but do have a little savings stashed away for a rainy day, but nothing could have prepared them for the SUPERSTORM known as Sandy. These are the people that many of the FEMA workers are watching out for so they do not get 'lost' in the shuffle. It was nice to see some of the people in a relaxed setting. But within a short time, they were gathering up their things and heading off.

Anyway, we took a few photos ~ I have some from the trip you and I took and then today; it is striking how much has been done but one need just look across the street to see that there is still so much to do! It is an honor to deliver things to our Rockaway Family on behalf of our Roosevelt Island Family!!!

Image From Isa Abdul

Serena Thurston (Cynthia's Asst Director) gladly accepted all the items we delivered

Image From Isa Abdul

and promised to assess the needs of the community and advise Cynthia of said needs to be relayed to us. It was wonderful to see some people approach us as we unloaded and gratefully pick up a bottle of bleach, a mop, a broom and hurry off to continue cleaning their "palace". I KNOW we are making a difference! It is so wonderful to see!
Cynthia Cummings, the Executive Director of Community and Family Head Start in the Rockaways adds:
What a lovely description of Isa's visit today to document our progress. I guess being in the midst of everything my perception of progress is not clearly seen through my lens but it is good to know that it is viewed by others who come to visit. I am working hard to get the second floor inspected and approved by The Dept of Health so we can reopen the 4 classrooms. With that accomplished, I am simultaneously working on an alternative site with a kitchen to prepare the meals for the children when they return.

The renovations on the first floor will take some time but much has been accomplished in a short period. I am so grateful for my extended Roosevelt Island family that has shown unconditional support and love for us. Please extend my thanks to all- Cynthia
Here's how the Roosevelt Island relief efforts to the Rockaways began.