Mimi Pierre Johnson, founder of the Elmont Cultural Center Inc. and a Haitian American, speaks Monday night at a Mineola news conference to urge Long Islanders to help the island nation. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara
Relief, in the form of cash, toiletries and other supplies, will be collected and sent to earthquake- and storm-ravaged Haiti by leaders in Long Island’s Haitian American community and elected officials.
At a news conference and vigil Monday night outside the Nassau legislative building in Mineola, representatives from several nonprofits as well as county and state leaders urged Long Islanders to do whatever they can to support the small island nation. But also, to see that the recipient organizations they choose are legit.
The county building was bathed in blue and red spotlights, the colors of Haiti’s flag.
“I want the community to understand that there are non-for-profits right here on Long Island, who serve Haiti, who have been serving Haiti before the earthquake,” said Marthe Desdunes, chair of the Haitian American Family of Long Island Inc., or HAFALI. “… once a tragedy like this happens, the scammers come out, so I want people to just make sure they’re dealing with reputable organizations.”
The Aug. 14 Haiti earthquake, a magnitude 7.2 temblor, was followed three days later by Tropical Storm Grace, which forced a temporary halt to search and rescue efforts.
As of Sunday, the death toll from the earthquake stood at 2,207, according to Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency. The country’s most recent natural disasters followed the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Mimi Pierre Johnson, founder of Elmont Cultural Center Inc. and a Haitian American, said the nonprofits and local leaders are “partnering to do one thing, help Haiti.”
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Donations will be sent to some of the hardest-hit communities in the country, including Aquin, Camp Perrin, Les Cayes and Jeremie, organizers said.
Contributions, which can also include medical supplies and clothing, can be dropped off at the Nassau legislative building, HAFALI’s office in Freeport, Elmont Fire House Engine 1, and the Hempstead Hispanic Association office. In Suffolk, donations can be dropped off at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church in Wyandanch and St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Brentwood.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, State Assemb. Michaelle C. Solages (D-Elmont) and other elected officials and community members hosted the vigil.
Solages, a Haitian American, who was alongside her brother, County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Lawrence), said “we stand in solidarity because our beautiful mother country of Haiti needs us and regardless of your descent … you are here to remember those who need us the most. I know my heart is broken.”
Curran said: “It is on us to do what we can to help.”
Drop-off locations for Haiti earthquake victims: