The Action Center is standing on the front lines providing to residents distribution, hot-food, supply, medical, relocation, laundry and legal services needed to maintain our residents safety, health and dignity as we recover together from the devastation that has wrecked our community.
To Date our efforts include:
Just as the oyster, invaded by an irritant it cannot expel, turns adversity into a glowing iridescent work of nature’s art…so too have the spirited residents of Far Rockaway along with the Action Center’s help found their own pathway to pearls.
Now, with this proposal, we reach out to you...winter is coming and with it the apathy of a prolonged experience as the thunder of Sandy blows now, softly in the distance...but we who serve on the front li know we cannot fold of our tents and go away for we know we would leave death in our wake. We need your help to not only keep hope, but to help the Action Center keep the folks we serve alive...
HAVING SPENT OVER A DECADE STANDING ON THE FRONT LINES to serve the children of the Rockaway community, the Action Center has prevailed in carrying out our mission “to make a positive impact on the lives and futures of children, youth, family, an the communities where our programs are implemented” despite a number of inherent barriers.
In addition to being plagued with drug and gang activity, the community is home to six public housing projects, with approximately 17,000 official residents and over 65% of the population residing in these housing complexes living below the 200% poverty level. Despite high crime, high unemployment rates and high poverty, we have stood watched as over 4,000 Rockaway youth thrived in our traditional enrichment programs. In addition to academic enrichment, the youth in our programs have had an opportunity to be involved in arts, sports, music, dance, computers, science clubs, health fitness activities, social and global outreach, and the building of personal leadership and responsibility.
In the wake of Sandy, faced with insurmountable immediate, basic human needs — including bedding, food, basic healthcare or just a chance to sit in a room that actually had a source of heat, the Action Center was transformed into an all- encompassing Sandy Relief Center equipped with a medical unit and kitchen in a matter of days.
Each day we still have as many as 1,000 children, single mothers and elderly community members that are in desperate need of our help, line up for services.
Now, more than 4 weeks after the storm, we still have infants and toddlers sleeping on wet and mattresses; 10 buildings, many of these public housing buildings, without a heat source due to the lack of natural gas restoration; electricity that continues to blink intermittently; and, children who are experiencing serious health issues from the current conditions including: asthma, hypertension and diabetic emergencies. Literally, the Action Center is the only thing that stands between many in the community and an untimely death.
apartment relocation, legal, and laundry services; in addition to the immediate needs distribution of supplies, medical assistance, baby items, and hot-food services that were already being offered.
Thus, making it inherent that we reach out to foundations, trusts and folks of good will with good hearts who can be with us through the long hall, enabling us to continue to help those most in need of help.
OUR SANDY RELIEF PROGRAM presently encompasses 5 main program service areas that have been designed to meet the dire needs of the Rockaway community. These programs include Distribution Services, Medical Services, Emergency Apartment Removal Services Emergency Laundry Clean-Up Services, and Free Legal Services.
We view a need for the prolonged provision of these services; as well as, the need to help the community cope, better prepare and prevent devastation in th is “New Normal” stemming from cataclysmic weather-related events and economic changes in our area. In addition to the continuation and expansion of our services over the long haul our long-term plans are to keep employment, which has spike 30% in this already impoverished area as Action Center employees come mainly for the community we serve, at bay.
Hot-Meal and Distribution Services
Each day the Action Center prepares and distributes hot meals to the Rockaway community. To date, our relief efforts have included the distribution of over 60,000 hot-meals, 450,000 perishable and nonperishable food items and tons of bottled and jugged water. Additionally, our center opens daily to provide the community with necessary household supplies, clothing and essential cold-weather items.
While residents wait for help that never comes, they are becoming ill; some gravely ill. Asthma and respiratory illnesses have spiked as mold infestations continue to grow; babies are being rushed to the center with high fevers; and, the number of adults seeking treatment for unstoppable nose bleeds are through the roof. Staffed by volunteers, primary from Mount Siani, but from parts all over as well, the medical center operates to be able to respond quickly to medical needs that include de-humidifiers, nebulizers, flu shots, asthma pumps, emergency triage, medical supplies, prescriptions and follow-up care. On average, each client receives approx. $800 of care when the doctor’s care, prescriptions services and medical equipment and supplies are totaled. The clinic is presently serving approximately 250 clients per week.
Emergency Laundry Clean-Up Services
Lacking laundry mats in the immediate surrounding area and faced with moldy and mildewing clotheslines, residents are trapped -- without transportation, the financial means, or the medical
health to properly address their soiled laundry. In response, through a generous donation from folks as far away as Norway, we are setting up an emergency laundry facility to wash clothes and to assist in ridding the unhealthy conditions.
Free Legal & Advocacy Services
While some residents lack the education and yet others simply lack the energy to understand and fight for their rights, the Action Center has partnered with a group of volunteer lawyers to assist the community in understanding their rights as tenants and filing for FEMA appeals. The Action Center staff also advocates with local, state and federal entities on behalf of storm survivors; ensuring basic needs are met.
Emergency Apartment Removal Services
Sick, tired and cold residents can no longer wait for others to do their jobs and remove residents; thus, the Action Center has recently begun our Emergency Apartment Removal program.
With residents whose apartments have been deemed unlivable due to mold, medical and other unsafe conditions, the Action Center provides the funds needed for transportation and the cost of shelter while their apartments are made safe so they may return.
Cynthia’s A partment Above in Pictures: Items and walls still host brown residue and mold following the flood waters. The ceiling is peppered with black mold, while the walls retain a white mold residue. The paint on the walls, particularly close to young Jovan’s bed, is peeling and the base of the wall in the hallway continues to crumble
PROGRAM AVERAGE COSTS: On average, the Action Center is providing approximately $350 worth of supplies daily to nearly 1,000 residents; $800 in medical services to nearly 250 clients weekly, $1,500 per
family for an estimated 5 families removed each week; and, approximately $150 each for 100 families in laundry services each week. Residents are desperate and we are desperate to continue to help them.
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS: The Action Center has always recognized the immense value in sustained partnerships; as they often lead to less direct costs and have the ability to benefit the masses. Through our relief efforts to date, we are proud to served on the front lines with support from the following:
Governor Andrew Cuomo; Knicks Power Couple Tyson and Kimberly Chandler, Robert F.Kennedy, Jr. and the NBA players association, Feed the Children, Save the Children, the Alec Baldwin Foundation and so many countless faceless, nameless others. Lastly, a number of the photographs contained in this presentation have been made available through a partnership with Syd London.
FINAL REFLECTIONS FROM THE FRONT LINES:
America post- Sandy, in the area we serve, is as much a third world country as it is a first world beacon of hope; though most prefer to believe the myth and not observe the reality.
The human ability to literally put one foot in front of the other in the face of adversity is truly amazing....please help us to continue one step, one foot, one person and one community at a time.
STORIES FROM THE FRONT LINES
November 6, 2012- The Action Center had met Anita and her family of fourteen who lived on the first floor of a public housing complex where water rose to the tops of the windows and poured into the apartment requiring them to run with their babies to higher ground on the sixth floor, the dampness and disease were palpable. In the first week after finding residents still sleeping on mildew-laden beds and water still seeping through the floor, The Action Center took Robert Kennedy Jr. and his family, as well as Governor Cuomo and his family, to visit her and help sponsor a feature story run on them by ABC news. Yet, a November 26 follow-up visit to Anita by the Action Center found her suffering from the effects of mold growing in her apartment. Bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth, she ended up needing to be transported to the Emergency Room. Before she left, she looked up at us and said, “When is this going to be over?” We had no answer.
Executive Director, Aria Doe, describes in her own words in an update to supporters, what it felt like to be on the other side of those conversations.
Dec 1, 2012
I thought yesterday had broken me... There is a reason the Red Cross and FEMA pull their folks out at 3 weeks...they call it the time of hitting a wall---I'd made it until 4 weeks in---hit the wall, thought I'd gone over it in fact... I had to walk away and left early for the first time...too tired to even lick my wounds...when I could lift my head, I lifted my hands and logged on to my computer. Hit some keys and you were all there...my friends, my family, and now you family of warriors really, fighting the good fight, chipping away at my frozen spirit, reminding me that, we were not alone---it WAS enough to get us to the next day, to make a difference. You reached out your hands---within them de- humidifiers to dry out the moldy apartments; my phone rang first thing in the morning Judy---Erin’s friend from ABC news wanting to hear our story, a team from Occupy Sandy with marching orders stopping by to look up how to hook-up a laundry, to give a much needed hug.
Then the person calling my name handed me a check, from a 65 year old foundation---strangers a scant month ago strangers still, yet trusted comrades in arms -- a piece of paper, like so many countless clicks of the mouse that have come from you and spelled life. I took it to my husband and we both knew as much as we possibly could we needed to erase yesterday and take this small victory among so much living carnage, this small push and stab at the mountain and bid it move Cynthia and bid it move her family, Ms. Archerbalds as well.
And those of us, who thought yesterday had broken us have been renewed because you took the time to get us to tomorrow, to plug the dyke with diapers, cribs, food, meds, smiles, encouragement, laughter; humanity that reminds us we are human, It was enough, it is enough, it is MORE than enough to get us to the only
moment anyone of us truly have. The moment we call "now"...to the answer we call "now". Thank you so much for being a part of this, sweeping us to this victory called NOW. Today was a good day, and I will take it. There are no words the heart can craft that will do what we feel justice. So thank you will have to do for "now".
Action Center Relief in the News...
57-10 Beach Channel Drive
Far Rockaway, NY 11692
Tel: (347) 752-9860
The Action Center
1414 Wheatley Street
Far Rockaway, NY 11692
Phone: (347) 752-9860
Phone: (347) 619-8504