North Star Fund Distributes $50K During Second Round of Hurricane Relief & Recovery Grants

North Star Fund is pleased to announce its second round of grants from the Grassroots Hurricane Relief Fund. The following grassroots and community organizations are providing supplies, services, and rebuilding communities as part of ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery. We are proud to support their efforts. 

Added Value (AV), Red Hook, Brooklyn - $5,000
To repair and replant the Red Hook community farm while employing youth leaders to distribute donated wholesome foods from area markets and farms to recovering families.

The Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn is a case study in how low-income urban communities face food insecurity and a lack of access to fresh foods. In the aftermath of the storm, the Red Hook community farm was submerged under over two feet of salt water destroying crops, plant beds, seed stores, and corroded sheds full of tools. Stores damaged by flood waters remained closed creating a crisis of food security in an area with high incidences of chronic diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Members and staff of AV coordinated with area markets and farms to receive more than two tons of donated fresh produce. The twice weekly "pop-up markets" have been hugely successful and employ youth leaders who participate in AV's urban farming program.

Since its inception in 2001, Added Value has promoted the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders to positively engage with their community through the operation of a socially responsible urban farming enterprise. They have offered hands-on learning opportunities to more than 1,300 students annually, grown 50 tons of produce, generated over $270,000 in economic activity, and distributed $125,000 in youth stipends. Added Value has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for its design of innovative programs that incorporate the principles of youth empowerment, community engagement, and economic development into efforts to create improved access to healthy food.

Catholic Family & Community Services (CFCS), Paterson, New Jersey - $2,500
To provide hurricane relief assistance including replacement of spoiled food, clothing distribution, temporary shelter, and financial assistance to purchase gas for portable generators and vehicles due to lost wages. 

Hurricane Sandy affected many low-income, African American, and Latino residents in Morris, Passaic, and Sussex counties of New Jersey. The greatest immediate need following the storm was direct assistance for clients of CFCS who suffered extended power outages.  Workers lost wages due to their job sites being closed and some jobs will be permanently lost. Many families had no or insufficient insurance coverage and will need help repairing damaged property and replacing household furnishings and appliances. CFCS will also provide clients with case management services aimed at accessing government and private grant programs, assessing damages and securing assistance for enacting repairs, job placement, counseling, continued direct assistance, information and referral.

Since 1969, the mission of CFCS has been to provide advocacy help and social services that address the needs of individuals, families, and groups in the community, especially the poor, to advocate for justice. 

Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), Brooklyn and Queens - $2,500
To purchase and deliver supplies to Sheepshead Bay students, families, and teachers adversely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

As an organization committed to developing the leadership of girls and women across New York City, GGE members stepped up to the plate when Hurricane Sandy hit. With programming in District 22 schools, many GGE participants hail from a variety of neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that felt some of the storm's greatest wrath, including Canarsie, Breezy Point, the Rockaways, and Sheepshead Bay. Enduring loss, damage, evacuation, darkness, and displacement beyond anything they had ever known, many students' daily lives were turned upside down from the destruction Sandy left along its path. 

GGE members have been a source of stability, safety, support and strength for students, families, and teachers of District 22 -- volunteering, delivering meals, donating items, cleaning homes, offering shoulders to lean or cry on, and providing temporary housing in their own powerless homes.  While other parts of the city have recovered, needs still persist and resources are diminishing for GGE's constituency.  Committed to maintaining continuous support for those still living in the dark, GGE will purchase and transport needed supplies to support students, families, and teachers at three schools in Sheepshead Bay.                 

Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (LICADD), Nassau and Suffolk Counties - $2,500
To employ per diem social workers who will help deal with the dramatic increase in demand for substance abuse and mental health services following the storm.

Long Island is suffering from a quiet crisis in alcohol and opiate addition. Advocates know successful rehabilitation depends on consistent access to counseling and maintenance clinics that distribute methadone and other therapies. With offices in Mineola, Ronkonkoma, and Riverhead, LICADD provides a variety of services to families impacted by addiction, including crisis intervention, solution-focused counseling, drug and alcohol screenings, brief interventions, treatment placements, and planned family interventions to local residents struggling with addiction. In the aftermath of Sandy, the demand for these services has dramatically increased due to drug supply shortages in Long Island resulting from limited mobility.  In some cases, hospitals had to turn away detox patients in order to focus on critical care patients; and the multiple psychological stressors associated with the storm are acting as triggers for many struggling with addiction.

Established in 1956, LICADD is dedicated to the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, direct access to addiction treatment on demand, and the promotion of addiction recovery. 

New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York City and State - $15,000
To help undocumented and "unqualified" immigrants affected by the hurricane access benefits, as well as provide an information clearinghouse to help immigrants understand the various resources and services available to them.

As it has been learned from past disasters, unless there is an organized community response, post-disaster resources rarely cover the needs of poor communities and immigrants. Most notably, FEMA benefits exclude undocumented and other immigrants who don't fit the definition of a "qualified" immigrant. To make up for this federal exclusion, NYIC is advocating at local and state levels that disaster benefits be provided to all immigrants affected. For those individuals who do qualify for aid, often language barriers and the fear of deportation prevent them from applying. NYIC is educating immigrants about their rights so they can, and will, access all the benefits for which they rightfully qualify.

Since its founding in 1987, NYIC has been a leading advocate for immigrant communities on the local, state, and national levels, serving one of the largest and most diverse newcomer populations in the United States. The NYIC provides both a forum for immigrant groups to share their concerns and a vehicle for collective action to bring about positive social change.

Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), Far Rockaway, Queens - $5,000
To provide hurricane relief assistance, including food, clothing, blankets, toiletries and other basic supplies to 10,000 residents living in five public housing developments on the Rockaway peninsula.

Neighborhoods on the Rockaway peninsula are some of the most depressed areas in New York State and the nation, with five public housing developments managed by the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), which are home to some of New York City's poorest families. With nowhere to evacuate to, many residents had no choice but to wait out Hurricane Sandy, which decimated the area. Residents were left with no power, water, food, supplies, nor public transportation. An established and trusted resource in the community, OBCDC was able to reach residents who felt isolated and forgotten by the city and relief agencies. OBCDC went door-to-door asking residents what their needs were, providing informal mental health and wellness counseling, and referring residents to resources as they re-opened or arrived. They also turned their office into a supplies distribution center and coordinated volunteers who were assisting elderly and homebound residents.

Since 2004, OBCDC has worked to improve the socio-economic status of public housing residents and surrounding low-income communities in the Rockaways.

Picture the Homeless, New York City - $2,500
To provide know-your-rights information and resources, and to document and disseminate homeless New Yorkers' experiences with city and federal disaster response efforts.     

Picture the Homeless (PTH) trains and mobilizes homeless New Yorkers to collectively identify key issues, build organizing campaigns, and participate in public policy decision-making processes of critical stake to them.  With many living on the streets or in public shelters, the storm further exacerbated already-dismal conditions for PTH's constituency.  Some lost all of their possessions from flooded storage facilities; others were ejected from evacuation shelters or relocated to overcrowded facilities; most, if not all were denied the FEMA aid that was readily available to their housed counterparts. 

In light of the poor response they have faced, PTH will continue connecting constituents with information and resources on their rights and redress options.  It will also marshal three homeless journalists to interview other homeless people, collecting and documenting narratives of those who have been ignored or received unequal treatment during storm relief efforts.  Findings will be disseminated through press and social media outlets including the organization's community blog, and used to further PTH's homeless rights and housing campaigns.

Respond and Rebuild (R&R), New York City - $2,500
To provide housing and stipends for relief workers who traveled to New York City from around the country and foster the infrastructural development of a new organization. 

The growing effects of global warming in the last decade are highlighted domestically by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Communities of color and those in the lowest economic bracket, such as African American communities resettled to Far Rockaway after World War II, are consistently under resourced and not prioritized for preparedness and relief efforts. In response, a network of independent relief volunteers has formed to respond locally, nationally, and internationally. Using their experience in disaster relief and skills in the construction trades, R&R has stepped up to coordinate immediate and effective response to disaster and aid in the long term participatory and environmentally sustainable rebuilding process.

Respond and Rebuild is a brand new organization working with the Occupy Sandy Relief and other local community organizations. They are committed to bringing green technologies and skills into the community and putting a high value on community participation in the rebuilding process.

Shore Soup, Rockaway, Queens - $5,000
To provide free hot soup delivered to public housing residents and private homes in the Rockaways.

Recognizing the tremendous needs Rockaway residents were facing with no electricity, heat, or hot water local business and community leaders, themselves facing similar challenges, sprang into action. What started as a street corner soup distribution point in the days after the storm has flourished into a long-term project dedicated to serving over 600 meals a day to residents of public housing buildings as well as neighbors in small private homes. Project organizers intend to keep this delivery kitchen fully operational throughout the entire winter, into April 2013. Shore Soup acknowledges that even after the power comes back on, the difficult economic and emotional realities will continue. Rather than be discouraged by their collective loss they will serve as a reminder that people do care about Rockaway residents and that they have not been abandoned.

Shore Soup is a brand new project of the Rockaway Rescue Alliance and plans to establish its own not-for-profit status in the coming months.

Street Vendor Project (SVP), New York City - $2,500
To provide resources and relief funding application assistance for displaced street vendors and their families.

As entrepreneurs who operate their businesses outdoors, street vendors were among the first whose economic livelihoods were jeopardized by Hurricane Sandy.  This is certainly the case for dozens of lower Manhattan vendors dealing with damaged equipment, merchandise losses, and displacement from neighborhoods still trying to get back in business more than a month after the storm.  As many have gone for weeks without pay, SVP is providing resources to help affected members and their families get back on their feet again.  Since many are newly arrived immigrants already facing unstable incomes and working conditions, SVP aims to ensure that this often overlooked sector does not fall through the cracks of recovery assistance.  It is helping members with FEMA and other small business relief applications, and dispatching outreach teams to survey lower Manhattan's low-lying and waterfront areas to identify and assist other displaced vendors. 

VOCAL-NY, New York City - $5,000
To support post-Sandy advocacy efforts to ensure: 1) Appropriate housing and medical care for vulnerable communities in the event of future disasters, and 2) Investments in green jobs targeted at low-income communities of color to support recovery efforts.  

In the wake of Sandy, VOCAL-NY became a go-to information and resource center for its constituency -- low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, and mass incarceration. With many homeless and already living in vulnerable circumstances, the hurricane further disrupted members' access to critical housing, public benefits, and life-sustaining medicine.  As methadone clinics and emergency departments were shut down, VOCAL-NY provided essential services to those without other means addiction treatment, and helped deliver harm reduction resources throughout Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.  It also pressed for public shelters and housing programs without power to have adequate supplies of blankets, flashlights, and food. 

VOCAL-NY is now shifting gears from relief to recovery, ramping up advocacy efforts to ensure that critical housing and medical needs of vulnerable communities are met in the event of future disasters.  It is also preparing to bring a busload of 50 members to an upcoming legislative session in Albany, where they will press for recovery jobs that invest in the green economy and hire from low-income communities of color.