Many Vital Services Continue on Limited Basis
October 31, 2012 - By Henry Street Settlement
All youth programs (day care, after-school and adolescent employment and education programs), Abrons Arts Center classes and performances, and the Good Companions Senior Center will be closed through Friday.
Despite the blackout that still blankets the Lower East Side, Henry Street’s doors were open as wide as possible today. Staff members were on hand cooking and serving food, delivering meals to our house bound clients, providing health care and social services, and cleaning up after flood damage.
"I am in awe of the dedication of our staff," said David Garza, Executive Director of Henry Street, who spent the day visiting each program site, delivering hot water, batteries and other supplies where needed, as well as encouragement to staff and clients. "Hurricane Sandy is challenging on many levels, and is taking an emotional toll on our community." He noted that Henry Street has contacted elected officials to assess the needs of all community residents, including those who are not Settlement clients.
Among the Henry Street heroes today were all of the Meals on Wheels drivers, including Darwin Arrington and Claudius Taylor who walked up 38 and 35 dark flights of stairs in order to deliver food to two elderly clients. They reported that these clients, as well as others, cried tears of joy when they arrived, grateful for their dedication.
Staff of the Urban Family Center was on hand to assess damage to the building, among the hardest hit. Plans are underway to pump the five feet of water from the building's basement, which housed the center's community room and other important spaces. All residents were evacuated on Sunday.
Luckily for the client who walked one hour to receive his medication at our Community Consultation Center, several staff members reported to work. They administered medication and attended to other health care needs during the day, despite having no power in the building.
Many staff who serve our senior clients were at work today, offering provisions needed to weather the blackout. The staff also set up a table in the Vladeck Houses courtyard where they distributed food and beverages. Among the items provided were hot dogs, hamburgers and corn cooked by members of the Henry Street fiscal staff who came to work. Despite the power outage, the Settlement's gas stoves worked beautifully.
The staff of our shelters where residents were not evacuated, and of our supportive housing residence, were busy helping residents deal with the hardships of the blackout, providing delivered food, flashlights and other necessities.
The facilities staff face the daunting task of making our storm-battered buildings ready for our clients — and doing so without much power. They are working daily to restore our program sites.
Note to staff: Employees who have been reporting to work (facilities department, etc.) throughout the week should continue to do so. Other staff members need not report to work unless directed otherwise by their supervisor. All employees will be notified when they should return to work.