Faith-based and community leaders in Port work together to address community needs

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In an effort to address the emergency needs of Port Washington residents as a result of COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the Community Chest of Port Washington has convened a working group of leaders from the Town of North Hempstead, Port Washington School District, PW Public Library, PW Police, the PW Crisis Relief Team, community and faith-based organizations and others.

The Community Chest has also created the Port Washington COVID-19 Community Response Fund with an initial goal of $500,000

This fund will be used to make COVID-19 emergency grants for food needs, housing costs and other expenses to existing CFBO that have strong experience supporting local families, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by this pandemic and its economic consequences, including frail home-bound senior citizens.

The PW COVID-19 Community Response Fund is hosted and administered by the Community Chest of Port Washington and is seeded with $100,000 from the Community Chest.

Donations for the PW COVID-19 Community Response Fund are being collected through the Community Chest website and its Certified Charity GoFundMe campaign https://bit.ly/2WUAKQG.

Every dollar will go 100 percent to the needs of families here. No overhead, no expenses. Donations can also be made by check to the Community Chest of Port Washington (COVID-19 in the memo section).

As of now, three CFBOs have been identified (Our Lady of Fatima, Outreach; St. Peter of Alcantara, Social Ministry and Littig House Community Center) as providing critical needs for approximately 300 at-risk Port Washington families and who will be receiving emergency funding.

The Community Chest has also created a free “Helping Hands for Seniors,” program and with the assistance of the PW Crisis Relief Team and other community volunteers is now available to shop and deliver for home-bound seniors.  Seniors citizens or others not able to go out can contact the Community Chest at 767-2121 or info@portchest.org for help.

Joel Ziev, former Community Chest president and current board member wants all residents to make sure that our aging in place senior citizens do not “fall through the cracks.”

He is making a plea to the entire community to “be aware of your neighbors who are older adults and people with severe chronic illnesses and establish a way for them to ask for help from you if they need it.”

Additionally, the Town of North Hempstead is requesting that all senior citizens register with Project Independence by calling 311; once registered, Project Independence assigns a caseworker who can help with transportation, food (including Meals-on-Wheels if eligible), entitlement benefits and other needs.

The Port Washington School District is providing breakfast and lunch to eligible students (and their pre-school siblings) at five locations in Port Washington: Schreiber H.S., Daly School, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Harbor Homes and at the Port Washington CAC, 382 Main Street and delivering surplus meals not picked up to senior citizen apartment buildings as requested.

The bus stays at the pickup locations from 7:00 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Friday’s pickup included meals for the weekend.

Countless individuals are running errands for their neighbors who can’t leave their homes, many have provided PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for our first responders, a Facebook group called “Sending Meals to North Shore and St. Francis Hospitals” is providing meals to staff at local area hospitals, residents are purchasing restaurant gift cards and donating them (helping local businesses at the same time) and others have held virtual concerts or classes to raise money for COVID-19 relief.

The Community Chest is cataloging these efforts and sharing on its website.

This is not the only way people in Port Washington are helping.

Many families are continuing to give to organizations they regularly support, and especially those that need help at this crucial time. The local food pantries are seeing an outpouring of support because of the social media campaigns of the local HSAs and PTAs.

Sister Kathy Somerville at Our Lady of Fatima’s Outreach had this to say about recent donations: “The Port Community has been beyond amazing in its outpouring of support in helping those in the Manorhaven area during this pandemic.

There are just no adequate words to describe it.  This community always responds when there is a need, but usually the need is time limited.

This need doesn’t have an end in sight right now, and Port just keeps on giving like the energizer bunny. We are very grateful for and humbled by, the amount of food and cash donations, and we, at Fatima, are privileged to be part of this community and help others in your name. This is “community” at its best!”

In times of crisis people’s hearts lead them to want to help and offer things that feel as concrete as possible.

Often, that means donating things that may turn out to be more of a burden than a help.  Make sure that the goods and services you want to donate are in need by the organization you want to help.

Food donations: Our Lady of Fatima: 883-3903; St. Peter of Alcantara: 516-883-0365; Paper & Personal Care Pantry: Lutheran Church of Our Savior: 767-0603.

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