For Brooklynites, the earthquake that devastated Haiti sent shock waves across the borough, which has some 75,000 Haitian residents, making it one of the largest communities of Haitians outside the island.
For some, the news was devastating. One young Haitian man, a resident of Brooklyn for only four months, had lost his entire family – eight people – to the disaster.
Others saw their memories shattered. Gardy Brazela, a Canarsie activist, reported that the home he had grown up in had been leveled. But, he counted himself one of the lucky ones. Of his 10 relations living in Haiti, all had survived the quake.
“The most important thing is that everyone was okay,” he stressed.
But, he added, his heart aches for his compatriots and his homeland. “The country was not ready for something like this,” Brazela emphasized.
It is the island’s lack of preparedness for disaster that has borough residents digging deep into their pockets to help out.
And, across Brooklyn, individuals and organizations are tapping their neighbors’ generosity.
Because of concern that donations go to legitimate organizations, rather than opportunistic scammers who may try to siphon off some of the funds being donated for Haitian relief, local elected officials are urging residents to give to groups they are familiar with, such as the Red Cross, which is accepting credit card donations by phone at 800-733-2767 or by texting “HAITI” to 90999 (to donate $10).
Other legitimate organizations accepting donations include:
*UNICEF (on line at https://secure.unicef.org, or by phone to 800-4UNICEF);
*Yele Haiti (on line at http://www.yele.org/ or, to make a $5 donation, text “Yele” to 501501);
*Operation USA (on line at http://www.opusa.org/, by phone at 800-678-7255, or by mail to Operation USA, 3617 Hayden Avenue, Suite A, Culver City, CA 90232);
*Partners In Health (on line at https://donate.pih.org – click Haiti Earthquake Relief in pull-down box);
*Mercy Corps (on line at http://www.mercycorps.org/haiti, by phone at 888-256-1900, or by mail to Mercy Corps Haiti Earthquake Fund; Dept. NR, P.O. Box 2669, Portland, OR 97208);
*Direct Relief (on line at https://secure2.convio.net);
*Stillerstrong (on line at http://www.stillerstrong.org/);
*Oxfam (on line at https://secure.oxfamamerica.org); and,
*International Medical Corps (online at https://www.imcworldwide.org).
In addition, newly elected City Councilmember Jumaane Williams – who represents a large chunk of Flatbush, where many Haitians reside – told this paper that he was partnering with HABNET, a local Haitian business group, to establish the 45th District Haitian Relief Effort, which will register volunteers, provide support services to those in need and coordinate relief efforts in the district. Information will be available, beginning January 20th, at 718-576-1966.
Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs shared a list of local groups that are collecting to help Haiti. Among those mentioned by Jacobs in an email are Batey Relief Alliance (www.bateyrelief.org or 917-627-5026), which is, “providing medical care in Haiti and helping to rebuild,” according to Jacobs.
Jacobs also said that Our Lady of Refuge Church, at 2020 Foster Avenue (718-434-2090) would be “coordinating monetary donations for the Brooklyn Archdiocese.” And, she noted, Reverend Nicolas at the Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men Church, 1488 New York Avenue, is accepting donations of water and medical supplies to be sent to Haiti when such supplies are called for.
Area residents can check on other groups, noted Representative Yvette Clarke, through the website of the Center for International Disaster Information, at www.CIDI.org.
Other local efforts reflect the borough’s diversity.
The Kings County Republican Party sent out an email to 15,000 GOP members around the borough urging them to contribute, either by mailing or delivering a check to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, c/o Republican Headquarters, 1662 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn, NY 11235, or by dropping a check at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ, 833 Marcy Avenue, attention: Reverend Dr. Gary Simpson.
Contributions to the Mayor’s Fund can also be made directly, by mailing a check to Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, One Centre Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10007 (note: Haitian relief), or on line, at www.nyc.gov/fund or, by calling 311, which, by January 15th, had already logged donations of more than $325,000 citywide.
Canarsie’s Association of Informed Voices also sent an email to its members, detailing the legitimate groups accepting donations. Among the organizations mentioned by Informed Voices were The Clinton Foundation (www.clintonfoundation.org/haitiearthquake), the Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.org)and Catholic Relief Services (on line at www.crs.org or email@example.com; by mail at 228 W. Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD, or by phone at 888-277-7575).
Also collecting money and supplies for victims of the earthquake is the Coney Island based Urban Neighborhood Services, at 1718 Mermaid Avenue, which is accepting donations Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Checks should be made payable to the Brownsville-based Universal Mission Network Ministry, which was founded in 2004. For further information, contact UNS at 347-374-2455 or UMNM at 917-202-7759 or on line at http://www.unnm.org/.
In addition, New York City employees can participate in a payroll deduction program, beginning February 5th that was announced last Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Participants can earmark a certain amount from each paycheck to be set aside to help the relief efforts through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
“The scale of the devastation in Haiti is, as we all know, so enormous that it is almost beyond comprehension,” noted Bloomberg. “but, at the same time, every single gift of money, no matter how small, makes a difference.”