Sandy's heroes: community members helping their own
NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 11/26/2012, 10:34 a.m.
We at the Amsterdam News want to give thanks this busy, busy holiday season to the hundreds if not thousands of unsung heroes of the tri-state area who are helping pull the region out of the prolonged aftermath of a tragic natural disaster.
Some homes are still without heat and hot water three weeks after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York, New Jersey and other parts of the Eastern Seaboard.
Low-lying and coastal areas got hammered by the relentless rain and winds. The surges took life, property and the dreams of thousands.
While he visited and consoled residents on the affluent south shore of Staten Island, President Barack Obama did not ease the feelings of abandonment when he merely flew over the Rockaways--where many Black folks had already complained about being initially ignored by emergency services like FEMA and the Red Cross.
Unpaid volunteers motivated by goodwill and compelled by a sense of community have given up their time and energy to help next-door and across-town neighbors.
"The community has come through as we help the victims of Hurricane Sandy," said Jeffrey Gordon, manager of the Peacekeepers--a three-year-old organization that mentors youth in the community. "We have worked with different organizations like SKIP--Support for Kids of Incarcerated Parents--and Trinity Justice Ministries. We came together to try and address the needs of the people. We first went out to Far Rockaway on Nov. 3. We took baby supplies because they said they needed things like Pampers and formula. We got the supplies together and we went out there, and we have been going out there every weekend to distribute the supplies."
Gordon said that this community service is just an extension of the work they have been doing for the last few years. He told the AmNews, "We try and uplift the youth in the community with positive images and getting them away from some of the negative things they may have been into; and we try and get them jobs.
"Myself and another manager work in construction, so when we hear about an opening, we tell the young people so that they can get work and try and be productive members of society."
For Thanksgiving, the Peacekeepers will be hosting a dinner in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, at the Bi Polar Bar & Lounge, 2588 Atlantic Ave., at Georgia Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"We are bringing families from Far Rockaway to eat Thanksgiving dinner. We are sitting down to eat with them, and then we will bus them back home to Far Rockaway. Some of the food was donated, a lot of it we paid out of pocket, and contributions also came from restaurants and stores who donated food and dishes to the effort," he said.
Gordon said volunteers can join in if they can get to the venue by 10 a.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. For more information, call 347-564-7743.
Milan Rasheed Taylor, the 23-year-old founder of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, is another unsung hero who has worked tirelessly in his Queens community.