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Businesses help homeless families – QNS.com

Businesses help homeless families

Astoria resident Yves Marie Danie Baptiste wanted to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by giving back to women and children in the Queens community. Therefore, Baptiste, who runs an organic pet food business, organized shops in her neighborhood to provide a day of fun for homeless families on Monday, January 21.
“This should be a day on - not a day off,” Baptiste said.
First, the group - comprised mostly of moms and kids living at the Jamaica Family Residence and Hillside House - gathered at Astoria’s Paparazzi Restaurant for a lunch of rice and beans, chicken nuggets and french fries. Then the kids were given free haircuts - the boys were bused to Woo’s Woodside Barbershop and Jose 2000 Barbershop in Astoria and the girls headed to Sophia’s Beauty Salon in Astoria for their new coifs.
“If [King] were alive, I think he would be really proud of the local businesses who signed up and opened shop - some of them are not open on Monday,” Baptiste said, explaining that the restaurants Paparazzi and Liceth’s Corner Caf/ in Astoria, salons and bus companies - Astoria Express Transit and Trans Express Inc. - all donated their goods and services.
“Because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lived a life of serving other people … what better way to emulate his actions by reaching out to kids without homes who don’t have much at all,” Baptiste said. An 11-year volunteer for New York Cares, Baptiste has worked with several Queens shelters in the past, and she said that meeting the women and children inspired her to hold the event for them.
Rosedale native Ivalina Passe, who has been living at the Hillside House for the past two weeks, came to New York after the pipes in her Wilkes Barre, PA. home burst and she and her daughter were turned away by family members in Queens.
“I’m trying to use what I can to fix my pipes. I can’t live like that,” Passe said, explaining that since coming to New York, her 10-year-old daughter, Tyler Christina, has been going to school and Passe is wondering if the Big Apple would be a better place to raise the girl.
Diann Mitchell, who has been living at the Jamaica Family Residence for one year, said, that the event was one of the few chances she had to get outside - besides her doctors appointments.
Now, the youngest of her five children, Kareem, is 14 and Mitchell is hoping to move out of the shelter this year. She submitted her application to assistance to find housing 190 days ago and was told that the process takes about six months.
For Martin Luther King Day, Kareem and other kids at the Jamaica shelter wrote essays about the civil rights activist, Mitchell said, proudly displaying her son’s five-page handwritten piece.
At future Martin Luther King Day events, Baptiste said she hopes to host essay contests like the one at the Jamaica shelter and performances about the Nobel Peace Prize recipient. “I want the kids to understand about unity, friendship, community service and what Dr. King stood for,” she said, adding that she has already begun searching for locations and sponsors for 2009.
For more information about future events, contact Baptiste through her website: www.DogsDontDrinkCoffee.com.

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