NYC-based Haiti relief efforts continue
by Richard J. Bocklett
Feb 09, 2010 | 2844 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brooklyn Representative Yvette Clarke introduced the Haitian Emergency Life Protection Act of 2010, or H.E.L.P Act, aimed at reuniting Haitian families. This bill would allow an estimated 55,000 Haitians who already have approved immigration petitions to join their relatives in the United States.

This legislation, co-sponsored by representatives Ed Towns, Eliot Engel, and Charles Rangel - all from New York - could impact over 150,000 Haitians living in New York City, including large populations in southeast Queens and central Brooklyn.

“It is my hope that this bill will provide an expedited pathway to family reunification, bringing peace of mind to Haitian families within our district," said Clarke. "I am in the process of urging members of Congress to join me in this great opportunity to help Haiti and its people.”

Demonstrating unity, senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Robert Menendez introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

“As a representative of the second largest concentration of first and second generation Haitian immigrants, my office has been and continues to be inundated with families desperately trying to reunite with their loved ones directly affected by the devastation in Haiti,” added Clarke. “My constituents are eager to reunite with their family members in Haiti, some of whom have been waiting for up to 11 years to enter the U.S. because of backlogs.”

Meanwhile, at a “Somos Una Isla” unity benefit concert, State Senate President Malcolm Smith of Queens accepted a $50,000 donated by Aventura and Anheuser Busch on behalf of the New York State Senate for Haitian relief efforts.

The Madison Square Garden concert was sponsored by Aventura, a popular meringue band from the Dominican Republic, and Anheuser Busch. Aventura donated $25,000 from the proceeds and Anheuser Busch matched that $25,000.

“The catastrophe in Haiti has affected thousands of Haitian New Yorkers in my district,” said State Senator Kevin Parker. “I applaud Aventura and Anheuser Busch for donating $ 50,000 to support the millions of Haitian citizens displaced by the massive earthquake.”

Smith’s office, in conjunction with Walgreen's drugstore on Guy Brewer Boulevard and Baisley Boulevard, just successfully concluded a Haiti collection drive with materials going to the Haitian Americans United for Progress multi-service center, 221-05 Linden Boulevard, in Cambria Heights.

Likewise, Brooklyn Councilwoman Darlene Mealy’s office just completed its first collection of relief items of non-perishable food, clothing, and blankets for earthquake victims with the shipment going out this week.

Additionally, in conjunction with New York Legal Assistance Group lawyers, Mealy’s office is offering free Temporary Protection Status (TPS) application help on Tuesdays, starting February 9, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Brownsville Recreational Center, 1555 Linden Boulevard, has been continuously accepting donations daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“Supporting our Brownsville Cares initiative, business, community members, and political offices are reaching out to meet Haitian needs,” said center director Greg Jackson in an interview. “Someone recently looked at our swimming-pool-sized collection area and exclaimed, ‘Damn, you got a lot of food!’ And, now here comes another ten bags and four boxes in the door.”

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