Congressman Gary Ackerman’s almost full-page ad (See The Roslyn News, March 25, 2010 page 19) requires some comment. Rep. Ackerman asserts that starting this year “your children’s coverage can’t be denied because of pre-existing conditions.” This is just not true. The president got this wrong too. I guess they just didn’t read the bill.
During the past six years, a number of us have willingly served this community as members of the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), even alongside some of you prior to your election to this board.
This past Friday morning, three immigrant worker advocates left the parking lot of the Hempstead Home Depot and started walking toward Queens.
When they reached Queens, they continued walking to Brooklyn. From Brooklyn, to Staten Island. On foot. And they didn’t stop there.
“Working together is not in Long Islanders’ DNA.”
I sometimes hear that when I share with people examples of regions acting in cooperative ways to address their problems.
I’ve always thought that DNA idea was hooey; now I am sure of it.
The American Red Cross and its volunteers work every day to help save lives or rebuild lives that have been shattered by disaster – whether it is down the street, across the country or around the world.
On the evening of Feb. 11, I gave a presentation to the Board of Education about the school budget for 2010-11. It was the first of a series of public meetings the Board will hold as they review the budget that will ultimately be presented to the voters on May 18.
This year’s budget climate is among the most challenging in recent memory. With the economic outlook still very uncertain and New York State likely to reduce school aid, districts are facing some of the most difficult fiscal circumstances in decades. Our approach to building a budget for 2010-11 has been to maintain the integrity of our educational program while fully acknowledging and understanding the economic times we are living in.
Ludmyard Charles, 16, said that when she got home the phone rang. It was her father. He told her to get a glass of water. Then he asked her if she was sitting down. Next, he shared the heartbreaking news that her aunt, Ludmyard, was killed in the earthquake. The aunt she was named after who was pregnant, had lost her life when the earth opened up. The girl’s eyes filled up and she said of her aunt - “We were like sisters.”
A few days ago, I had the privilege of meeting Ludmyard and six of her fellow Westbury High School students, all of whom have roots in Haiti. I asked them about the emotional aftershocks of the Jan. 12 earthquake that toppled national landmarks and shantytown homes and killed and injured untold hundreds of thousands of people in and around the capital city Port-au-Prince.
Each one of the four girls and three boys learned about the earthquake when they arrived home after being together in an after-school program led by North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center. Eighteen-year-old Vayola Justinian recalled, “When I got home my mom was crying. The TV was on. When I looked at the screen I saw a map of Haiti. There was a red dot.”
I asked the students about the media coverage and they said that it was both good and bad. “It was good to have updates,” said 18-year-old Joes Paraison, “but bad to see pictures of the dead and injured.” The others nodded and Joes said, “By the second day it felt like my family was going crazy” watching television. He said that the faces on the screen were hard to see clearly, leading them to wonder if anyone of them was a family member. Joes then recalled a most troubling of images - “a truckload of dead children.” Seeing such devastation from afar, including pictures of people buried underneath rubble, added to their feelings of helplessness and their wish to be there to help.
Their counselor Pascale Beaubrun, a native of Haiti, who is based at the Guidance Center’s Leeds Place in Westbury, later said that they turned their sorrow into action by collecting money and contributing to the Yéle Haiti Earthquake Fund, a charity initiated by Grammy award-winning musician and producer, Wyclef Jean.
Myriam Jerome, 18, reasoned that it was better that the earthquake happened in the afternoon when everyone was out and about. Had it happened in the late evening when they were asleep in their homes, she explained, there would have been an even greater human toll.
Unwinding from a day at school, Michael Belizaire, 17, played a video game, while the youngest in this group, 15-year-old Policia Jean, turned on MTV. Both were later alerted by family members to tune in to CNN. In a short time they, too, saw the red dot in Haiti. Michael told us that his family’s house in Haiti was near the National Palace in Champs de Mars. He worried about his father and uncle who, he later learned, had survived.
Joes said that he tried to “move on” and had discovered that it was not as easy as it sounded. “Each day when I go to school, I try to forget, but every day when I get there, someone else is crying.”
“How do you cope?” I asked. They turned to one another and gestured in a manner that emphasized their deep connection to one another. They talked about the support offered by groups of Haitian youths in school and in the community.
Camy Pierre, 16, said that it was important “to comfort one another and don’t do anything reckless or lose control.” I asked Camy what he meant by that. He said that some of their peers were insensitive and said hurtful things about Haiti. Michael chimed in and stated how important it was to always “think positive.”
I asked about what they did when friends alone were not enough. One of the girls said that she was worried about a girlfriend who was so distraught that she thought she could hurt herself. When she realized that more than friendship was needed, she advised a trusted school counselor. All of them said that they were aware of where and who to go to for more specialized support in school and in the community and found support in that as well.
Expressions of helplessness and grief quickly turned to frustration and anger as they talked about disturbing phone calls from Haiti and learning about mass graves and rampant lawlessness and rape. I said that it must be unbearable to sit with such news. Joes emphasized the importance of talking and not allowing one’s feelings to get “all bunched up.”
Long after we said goodbye, I was left with a feeling of abiding respect and pride for this group of thoughtful and deeply empathic young people. They are, without a doubt, among the finest of Haiti’s - and Long Island’s - sons and daughters. Let us never forget them.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a common form of chronic liver disease that is quite commonly encountered in our area. As there are no specific markers for this condition and it is seldom considered by physicians, its diagnosis is often delayed or not made at all. This chronic condition is a result of alterations in the body’s immune system which lead to the production of specific chemicals that attack liver cells. These specific chemicals have yet to be identified, however the condition of autoimmune hepatitis is well described. Simply said, this condition is a result of an enhanced immune response directed at the liver.
A team of researchers went looking for land in all the right places—and found oodles of it. Enough to start building a new, more vibrant and prosperous Long Island. That’s the news contained in a study just released by the Long Island Index.
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