In the Gospel of Luke, the young man asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” His answer is, the Good Samaritan-the one who showed mercy in a time of dire need.
I ask you to offer help that is urgently needed.
Yesterday, our neighbors in East Harlem were rocked by a gas main explosion on East 116 Street. Two buildings were destroyed, the death toll is seven people and growing, and several hundred of people have been displaced.
Church of the Heavenly Rest has a long history of working with East Harlem partners- our northern neighbors. We also have supported fellow New Yorkers in times of disaster. Tom Synan guided CHR’s response to both the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Sandy. Working with our neighbors in times of need is core to our Christian faith and central to our history as a parish.
Elizabeth Garnsey and I went to the disaster site yesterday morning to offer prayers. Today, our wardens, outreach chair Aleta Shipley, parish program coordinator Lindsey Briggs and others have worked on ways that we can offer help as a whole parish. Here is what we are doing:
- Give Food: The New York Common Pantry is taking prepared food to displaced families. If you bring prepared food to Heavenly Rest’s reception area by 3pm on Friday, then the Common Pantry will take it to the distribution point. The food should be simple-fruit, vegetables, rice-in dishes that you don’t want returned.
- Help with Recovery Items: Sarah Savage visited the Harlem Red Cross this morning. She and Lindsey Briggs have talked with responding agencies to see they need. Right now, agencies are struggling with distributing what they have collected already. Today I am making donations from the Rector’s Discretionary Fund on behalf of the parish to the Red Cross for general relief and to the New York Interfaith Disaster Relief Services to buy giftcards for displaced families so that they can purchase what they need. If you would like to add to these contributions, please let Ruth Anne Cary know (firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-289-3400, ext. 215) as soon as possible.
- Offer Shelter: Thanks to Marilyn Budzanoski, we are prepared to open our shelter to a displaced family in the days ahead.
- Pray Together: We will take part in a prayer vigil with the East Harlem community on East 116 Street at 10 am on Friday morning. Please let me know (email@example.com) if you would like to attend.
Needs will continue to develop. We will stay in contact with partners in the Diocese of New York and in East Harlem to continue respond to the after effects of the explosion.
Please keep East Harlem neighbors, our emergency services responders, and our City in your prayers.
Grace and Peace,