By Joe Clark, past governor of District 7230 (Bermuda, part of New York, USA)
Hurricane Sandy has left its mark. In lower Manhattan, many elderly, infirmed, homeless and single parent families are suffering. They have no power, food, water, blankets, or warm clothing to get by, and with harsh weather approaching, they don’t have heat or other essentials to keep them going. They are at risk of illness or death from exposure.
Many of these people are invisible to the rest of us, hidden by the brick, steel, and concrete of shelters that hide them from public view. They are fighting to get by one day at a time. They visit the Bowery Mission and Nazareth Housing, two charity organizations, on a daily basis to see what they can get to provide for themselves and their families.
When we made our deliveries to the Bowery Mission, we noticed that the chapel was filled with people who had been left homeless trying to get a warm meal and in out of the cold. They thanked us profusely as we unloaded supplies. Caitlyn Clarke, president of her Boston Rotaract Club, observed, “the efforts and passion of the Rotarians and Rotaractors who were present are a true testament to the spirit of Rotary. It was our pleasure to be a part of helping to rebuild. The disaster resonated within all of us.”
At the Nazareth Housing we saw lines of people waiting in the bad weather just to get a few supplies. Kazumi Hasegawa, secretary of the Rotary Club of Wall Street New York spoke with an elderly Chinese lady who asked her for just one apple so she could share it with her family. Mothers were there to get diapers and formula for their babies. Father Michael, executive director of the Nazareth Housing, told us about people who had their electricity restored but who will not have heat for up to a month because their boilers were ruined. We also heard about elderly people trapped in upper floors of high-rise apartment buildings who have not been able to get out for supplies. We met people who were bringing them food and blankets to keep them warm. This is what Rotary and Rotaract are all about. Our club was honored to participate in helping those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Many have lost homes, furniture, and prized possessions. It will take a long while to rebuild. They are in need of things we take for granted such as a bed to sleep in, food, diapers, baby food, milk, formula, blankets, warm clothing, furniture, and heat.
Help needed now
We need to reach out to these people and address their needs and provide them with help. NOW.
The Rotary Club of Wall Street New York is coordinated relief efforts and help coming in from Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, and Rotary alumni from around the world. Rotarians have been there providing immediate support after the hurricane hit and are still working to meet their daily needs. Plans are being put together to provide more long term relief.
Please join in helping these forgotten people by sending a donation to the Rotary Club of Wall Street Foundation at www.wallstreetrotary.org/donate.