The lights came back on for most of Chinatown this evening as we were cleaning up today’s work. Needless to say, we are ecstatic!
What another phenomenal day. Over 500 (!) volunteers dropped off supplies and put themselves to work. We were able to charge over 200 phones until the generator died, and volunteers walked to over 100 buildings, reaching out to people who spoke English, Spanish, and at least three different Chinese dialects. The volunteer sandwich makers made hundreds of sandwiches today, and the temple across the street donated homecooked vegetarian food to us. We were also able to send over 50 volunteers and hundreds of pounds of donations to Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) as they began efforts to provide relief to public housing residents in the LES.
This has truly been a community effort. Together, we were able to fill a gaping void left by the City. We were able to take a situation that was disempowering and isolating and create room for people to take on leadership roles in galvanizing their networks to come out to volunteer. Sometimes people weren’t home. Sometimes people wanted batteries and didn’t want water. Sometimes it was really hard to hear that no one had cllimbed up the 17 flights of stairs to check in on someone. But each day we have been doing this work we have grown more and more in our ability to be open, flexible, and impactful. This is what a movement for social justice looks like. This is what we all built together.
Now that the lights are back on, we’ve been asked, what next? Do we still come tomorrow? And the answer is Yes.
We believe that we will not have the same level of need tomorrow that we’ve had the past few days. We would like all volunteers to consider the following:
1) Come to our office and do a walk-through of Chinatown to see if power has indeed been restored to all buildings and to followup with some of the tenants people came back to us asking us to keep an eye out for. (Note: We will go from 10-2pm). Yes, you can still bring supplies if it’s easy to drop them off at our office and we will work with other organizations to make sure they get out to the other affected areas.
2) Support relief efforts in the Rockaways and Brighton Beach through NY Communities for Change. They need volunteers from 9-5pm. Contact Amelia Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at (646) 250-5797.
3) Support relief efforts that Occupy Sandy are involved with, full list at http://occupysandy.net/
4) Check out what bicyclists are doing while there is a gas shortage: https://www.facebook.com/events/163223967154377/
At CAAAV, we have been overwhelmed by the caring and love people have shown us. We are not tired from this experience. Instead, we have renewed energy to go back to doing organizing across the City to ensure that when there are moments like this, we know we come together as one community.
Thank you all for all your support,