Sandy has shown us the best and worst in people. It’s hard for me to fathom how painful it is for those who have lost their homes and are living with no heat and hot water. How the overwhelming losses must tear at the hearts of those suffering in the aftermath.
At the same time I’ve seen the huge acts of kindness by grateful people who roll up their sleeves and ask “how can I help?”
Our newspapers have helped to mobilize the good people who want to aid in the relief effort, and I am so impressed by the outpouring. Last week I sat with Lois Christie, CEO of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, who wears another hat as president of Intercoiffure, an international organization of salon owners. As an entrepreneur, she opened her “Rolodex” and reached out to her national suppliers such as Procter & Gamble, Matrix and L’Oreal, to name a few, and to her friend, Deborah Carver, who owns multiple trade beauty magazines to reach out to her advertisers for donations. At the same time I called Mary Hughes, vice president for leasing at Cord Meyer, owners of The Bay Terrace shopping center. Mary and her company agreed to give us storage space in an empty storefront and have her security staff pick up the donations being dropped off. Donations began pouring in.
Then another salon owner, Pouran, who owns Pouran Salon and Spa in the North Shore Towers, quietly made and brought 100 sandwiches, soup and lasagna to the Rockaways. She and her son Kia and a friend just filled their van on the day the salon is closed and found a youth center on Rockaway Boulevard and made many people there so happy!
Our own offices were overflowing with donations and were quickly picked up by Assemblymember Ed Braunstein. City Councilmember Mark Weprin had the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corp quickly get the donations into the hands of the people who needed it most.
Dr. William Nelson down in the Rockaways, who runs the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, which has been lacking electricity, shared with me how Amerigroup health insurance sent a mobile van to park in front of the center. It held patient examination rooms.
The acts of kindness and generosity overwhelm me, but I’m not surprised. Over 40 years ago when I was trying to get help for the people at the Willowbrook state school, a Staten Island institution for people who were developmentally disabled, news coverage of conditions there shocked the city. There was an overwhelming response to help, just as there is today. We are a city of great people.