|Travers Park, Jackson Heights|
November 4th, 2012 was a memorable day in the annals Jackson Heights. My neighbors organized a hurricane relief fundraising/ donation event and were able to collect $ 4,246 over 3 days by selling hot food and sweets. Kids offered manicure services and even face painting generated money to donate to those in need. The funds were intended to help the residents of Far Rockaway, an area totally devastated by Hurricane Sandy. In addition to this, Professor Regina A. Bernard, from Baruch College showed up with her students, who offered to drive to Staten Island to deliver boxes of clothes.
The event was coordinated through a community email listserv. Normally, the listserv covers topics that are pertinent to families in the neighborhood. People give away or sell hand-me-down clothes, toys, strollers. After-school activities are discussed. Recommendations are sought for everything from pediatricians to a good restaurant. When Sandy hit, the emails turned into calls for action, donations, and volunteerism. The residents of our neighborhood, which was relatively not affected by the storm save for a few downed trees, used the same forum to help fellow New Yorkers.
People in several areas of Queens and New York will benefit from my neighbors’ altruism. Fortunately, we had extra clothes, shoes and food to give away to those in need.
Notwithstanding, residents from some hard-hit places have expressed complaints about the slow pace of an official response to help. Staten Islanders feel forgotten, with some suggesting that Manhattan gets everything while they are left in the dark. Fortunately, sooner or later they will get help.
|Santiago de Cuba, Cuba|
The same cannot be said about already impoverished Caribbean countries that were also the target of Sandy. In Jamaica, whose economy depends on tourism from the Northeast of the United States and in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a target of previous natural disasters, destruction will be the norm for a long time. Things are not different in the Dominican Republic. And Cuba, which endures the 50-year US embargo, is having an even more difficult time in terms of getting help because the restrictions in place prevent it.
Thus, although the day was highlighted by this unique feeling of being blessed by having the best neighbors in the world, I could not stop thinking about my family and friends in the Caribbean, who are not as fortunate as those in The Rockaways and Staten Island.