For Immediate Release
January 13, 2010
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City to open resource center for local families and offer direct outreach to Haiti
Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced this afternoon that the City of Boston, in conjunction with a number of community partners, would begin mobilizing resources to assist the victims and families impacted by the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday. In an outreach effort aimed directly at victims in Haiti as well as local families with ties to the country, a number of city agencies will work with partner organizations to open a local resource center for Boston's Haitian community in addition to sending direct assistance to Haiti.
Tonight, Mayor Menino and other officials will join State Representatives Marie St. Fleur and Linda Dorcena-Forry, two leaders in Boston's Haitian community with whom the Mayor is closely coordinating, at a meeting they are hosting for Boston's Haitian community at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End.
"Boston's ties to Haiti are very deep, and our thoughts and prayers go out not only to the victims of this tragedy, but also to the Haitian community in our city whose loved ones have been affected by the disaster," Mayor Menino said. "On behalf of the City of Boston, I offer my deepest condolences to those impacted by this horrible tragedy. As a city, we will come together to support the Haitian community both here in Boston and abroad in any way possible."
Mayor Menino has organized a team of public and private partners to accomplish three primary assistance objectives:
- Open a resource center for local families seeking information and assistance.
- Establish a relief fund to help support local families with relatives in Haiti.
- Offer search and rescue resources to Haitian officials, including both equipment and personnel.
Community partners as well as staff from city agencies such as the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) are in the process of setting up the resource center for local families impacted by the earthquake. The center will be operated out of SEIU Local 1199, located at 150 Mount Vernon Street in Dorchester. It will begin operating tomorrow from 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and remain open throughout the weekend and possibly into next week, depending on need. Translators, crisis councilors, computers, and phone lines will be available for local families in need of assistance. Individuals looking for more information can contact the center by calling (617) 284-1199.
The relief fund for local families with ties to Haiti, named the "Fund for Boston Neighborhoods, Inc. – Haitian Family Relief," will be administered by Bank of America. Donations to the fund can be made by visiting any local Bank of America branch.
The Mayor's Office of Emergency Preparedness is coordinating with state and federal authorities to make disaster medical assistance teams (DMAT) available to assist Haiti with search and rescue efforts. Urban search and rescue teams from Boston are also at the ready to assist, and the city has offered to lend approximately $1 million in search and rescue equipment to emergency responders in Haiti.
Given Boston's sizeable Haitian community, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) arranged today for crisis counselors to be present at schools and educational complexes with large populations of Haitian immigrants and Haitian-American students and faculty. Counselors were dispatched to the West Roxbury Education Complex, the Hyde Park Education Complex, Tech Boston Academy, Taylor Elementary, and Kenny Elementary. The school department also made automated calls to Haitian Creole speaking families to inform them of the community meeting and information session tonight at the Cathedral.
Under Mayor Menino's leadership, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson will ensure that BPS students and families impacted by the tragedy can take advantage of all available resources. "During this difficult time, our first priority is the emotional and physical well-being of our students," Superintendent Johnson said. "We have many students with ties to Haiti and we know that they and their families are waiting to connect with their loved ones. The Boston Public Schools community is ready and able to help our students cope with this crisis."
Other resources for families impacted by the earthquake include:
- The State Department's information line: Individuals seeking information about family members living in Haiti are encouraged to call 1-888-407-4747. Press zero (0) to speak with a customer service representative.
- The White House's official website, www.whitehouse.gov, offers general information about the earthquake and relief efforts in Haiti.
Other ways to assist victims of the tragedy include:
- Visit www.interaction.org for a list of credible responding organizations that accept donations for international emergencies.
- Reputable organizations include: Partners in Health (www.pih.org); International Red Cross (www.redcross.org); Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org).
Individuals can make $10 donations to the Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to "90999." These donations will be charged to an individual's cell phone bill.
Information about the city's assistance efforts can be found at: www.cityofboston.gov.