Written by Joe Rizza Friday, 22 January 2010 00:00
“We, the people here in southwest Nassau County, are trying to do our share to assist our friends in Haiti,” said Assemblyman Tom Alfano, who organized the rally of support.
Alfano said his office had been inundated with calls from people who wanted to help. “We wanted to come as a community to thank everyone,” he said. “Everything that’s given through this effort will be delivered directly to the people of Haiti.”
“This is a call again for everybody to help again,” said Duchatelier, who has been involved in relief efforts to Haiti for the past two years.
Duchatelier estimated that the items that are being donated now should get to Haiti in six to eight weeks. “By that time, things should calm down where [they] can receive the materials and get them distributed in the proper way.”
The tragic earthquake in Haiti has affected the lives of many people in Elmont, a community with a large Haitian population. “There’s a lot of people here that have suffered losses,” said Duchatelier, who lost his grand cousin in the earthquake.
Nassau County Legislator John Ciotti said that the Elmont and North Valley Stream communities have been severely impacted by the tragedy. “I’m proud to not only lend a hand to the food drive, but will continue to work with Assemblyman Alfano on this humanitarian effort. We have to do something and this effort is all about that,” said Ciotti. “Elmont is a phenomenal community and we knew it would deliver.”
Elsy Guibert, a former trustee on the Elmont School Board, was in Haiti the Monday before the earthquake and her son is still there. Guibert was comforted to know her son, a student at Elmont Memorial High School, is fine, but she had some important advice for him. “He is stranded, but I want him to remain there to help out,” she said.
Elected officials on different levels of government including state, county and town, civic leaders and residents are rallying to support those in need. "I am working with members of the town council, particularly Ed Ambrosino and Dorothy Goosby, providing information on how to make monetary contributions, establishing collection locations for supplies and non-perishable foods, as well as interfacing with school and community officials to ensure a coordinated approach to assisting the victims of the earthquake in Haiti," said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray.
The youth of Elmont has also answered the call for help. Each of the elementary schools in the Elmont School District will act as a drop-off location for those wishing to donate supplies. Elmont Memorial High School is also acting as a drop-off location.
Elmont Superintendent of Schools Al Harper said the mood is somber in the schools, but the children are trying to do their part. “The Elmont community always reaches out whenever there is a need. The children have really rallied around the effort. We have collected huge amounts of food, clothing, batteries, flashlights, shoes, sandals, et cetera, to be delivered. I’m proud of my children,” he said.
“A lot of people are opening their hearts. In times like this, this is what we really need — for people to be generous and care for people who they don’t know,” said 18-year-old Garvey Jean of Cambria Heights, whose sister’s grandmother passed away from injuries sustained in the earthquake.