Brooklynites Give Back!
Across the United States, people have been exposed to images depicting the utter destruction wreaked by Hurricane Sandy across the Eastern Seaboard last week. For us here at AAANY, these images do not represent a sad but distant reality. The people suffering in the wake of the storm are our neighbors, friends, and family; we cannot ignore the enormity of this disaster. As such, AAANY and members of our community came together to aid the relief effort in New York City.
While our community in Bay Ridge was fortunately left relatively unscathed, entire neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey were totally devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and are still reeling in the storm’s aftermath. The superstorm displaced hundreds of people in New York, and left thousands more without electricity and heat, or access to medical care, clean water, food, and clothing. In response to this tragedy, AAANY launched a massive food and clothing drive, and we were touched and humbled by the response. In typical fashion, the community rose to the occasion, generously donating boxes and boxes of non-perishable food items, blankets, essential supplies, warm clothing, and water, all of which were sorted, packed, and delivered by 20 amazingly dedicated staff members and volunteers here at AAANY.
We were able to bring about half of the donations we collected to Staten Island: the hardest hit of all the boroughs in New York City. Fatima Younis, one of AAANY’s first ever volunteers, reconnected with us, notifying us of the extensive damage in Staten Island. She initiated a substantial relief effort, collecting donations from her neighbors, and helping to deliver them to Staten Island in her car. Dr. Ahmed Jaber, the Board President of AAANY, and intern Tina Carter also loaded up as many goods as possible into their cars, transporting them to the storm-ravaged borough. While we were there, we worked with Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis so that we could expediently and effectively distribute aid. We also went door to door in Midland Beach, delivering hot pizza to those in need.
The rest of the donations we collected at AAANY were delivered, with the help of volunteer Dave Segal, to the emergency shelter at FDR High School on 20th Avenue in Brooklyn.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the entire effort was the coming together of people from outside our community and from across the country in the name of disaster relief. Said Durrah, a Maryland based Arab American comedian, sent in a huge contribution of boxes of essential supplies and food, and countless donations came to us from the greater Washington DC area.
Though there is much work yet to be done, we at AAANY are proud of and encouraged by the outpouring of generosity we have encountered across the city in our relief efforts. People came together regardless of religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, and transcended petty divisions in order to contribute to a greater good. We are confident that members of our community will continue to provide help and charity to those in need after this horrible storm, because we know that sustained solidarity and support are truly essential in hastening a total recovery for those affected by this unprecedented natural disaster.