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Evacuees Welcomed By Queens Groups – QNS.com

Evacuees Welcomed By Queens Groups

Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have fled to the New York area have been greeted with open arms by several organizations who are standing by to provide the families with much needed support.
In the wake of the hurricane, State Senator Malcolm Smith, the Radisson JFK, the Red Cross and several area leaders formed the Radisson Relief Team, a coalition dedicated to providing assistance to the families seeking refuge in the Radisson JFK Hotel.
In a letter to Red Cross CEO Marsha Johnson Evans, Sen. Smith requested immediate assistance for evacuees living in New York.
“I am making it my crusade to make sure that they are thoroughly taken care of to the fullest extent possible and allowable,” said Smith. “They are especially confused about what assistance and benefits they are entitled to at this moment.”
Smith also requested that the Red Cross provide him with a statement regarding revenue and distribution of funds.
In the meantime, the Radisson Relief Team has organized an array of services to fit the needs of the hurricane victims.
Local businesses and organizations including the South Queens Boys & Girls Club, American Airlines and Tomasina’s restaurant have also pitched in with relief efforts offering Radisson evacuees jobs and amenities to help them get their lives back on track.
Presently more than one hundred people have taken up temporary residence in the Radisson and more are expected to come later this week.
Many of these evacuees who were once hopeful about returning to their homes, have decided to remain in New York after being delivered another devastating blow when river levees in New Orleans broke again this past week during Hurricane Rita.
The relief team is working with the Red Cross to address the victims’ immediate needs without forgetting their more permanent problems. A series of seminars is scheduled outlining housing and employment options, medical problems and other issues that have surfaced since the tragedy.
This week’s seminar will cover education and social services. Representatives from the Boys & Girls Club will be on hand to offer a safe haven for displaced kids.
“This is a grassroots effort,” said Pat Rubens, a spokesperson for Smith’s office. “We are prepared to provide aide for as long as we have to.”
The team is searching for housing accommodations for the “new New Yorkers,” but must first assess what is needed to move these people into permanent and semi-permanent homes.
They are requesting financial aid as well as household necessities such as baby cribs and refrigerators.
To donate to this cause, call Sen. Smith’s district office at (718) 528-4290.
Meanwhile, Diana Byfield of the Boys & Girls Club has spearheaded a fundraising campaign with the help of staff and teenage members of their Keystone Club.
In support of the victims of the hurricane, the staff and children are accepting financial donations and collecting clothes, food, toys, and school supplies to be donated to the 17 Boys & Girls Clubs that were destroyed in the Gulf Coast area, as well as evacuees living in the JFK Radisson.
“There are programs available for the young kids but the school-aged children affected by the hurricane need somewhere to go where they can have fun and be kids again,” Byfield said.
If you would like to support the Hurricane Relief Drive, please make checks payable to the Boys & Girls Club of America and write “Hurricane Relief” in the memo line.
The checks can be forwarded to the South Queens Boys & Girls Club at 110-04 Atlantic Ave, Richmond Hill, NY 11419 or to Boys & Girls Club of America at 1230 West Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30309, Attn: Hurricane Relief.
You can also donate via phone at (800) 805-2582 or online through Boys & Girls Club of America’s public website, bgca.org.
melissa@queenscourier.com

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