By Carrie Parker
Huntington may be a long way from Haiti, but community leaders are proving that it is not too far to help.
Spanning the distance of 1,500 miles to give Haiti the disaster relief it so desperately needs following Hurricane Matthew, Ginette Rows, of YAM Community Resource, and Pastor Georges Franck, of Huntington Church of God, with the help of Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, Councilwoman Tracey Edwards and local pharmacies, are collecting medical supplies before they head to help the storm-ravaged country.
Hurricane Matthew pummeled Haiti in October 2016, affecting an estimated 2.1 million people, according to the CIA World Factbook. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, chronically afflicted by political instability and natural disasters, and is still struggling to recover from its latest catastrophe.
“The devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew continue to challenge the people and children of Haiti with the bare essentials to survive and I hope other Huntingtonians will help to donate items to help make this volunteer-based mission a success,” Cuthbertson said in a news release.
Edwards added, “Hurricane Matthew destroyed Haiti’s infrastructure, which is making it a challenge to feed and provide much needed medical care to this hard-hit region. She added that she hopes local will join the effort to help by donating supplies.
Franck said he has collaborated many times with Rows, who heads YAM Community Resource, a nonprofit organization in Huntington Station that provides services to the underserved population in the Haitian community.
Franck, who was born in Haiti, said he has returned many times, following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2010. He has returned to Haiti each year since 2014.
This time, Franck and Rows collaborated to set up a three-day medical clinic during their trip scheduled for Feb. 17-27.
“We have five doctors waiting there, and everything we are collecting we will bring there,” Franck said. Six evangelists will be helping him on the mission, which will give physical as well as spiritual relief.
“We will be in the streets praying and encouraging people in the streets even while the doctors are working,” he added.
A letter was sent out to local pharmacies in hopes of collected donations of basic pharmacy items. One of the pharmacies that responded is 110 Pharmacy & Surgical in Melville.
“It’s a good cause,” said Denise Aleszczyk, a manager at the pharmacy. “Anything we can do to help the community.”
Aleszczyk said the pharmacy donated around $1,000 in items, such as cough medicine, alcohol swabs, Tylenol, hydrocortisone, adhesive bandages, antacids and antihistamines. The supplies help Aquin residents meet daily needs to recover from the storm.
For more information, including how to donate, email Yamresource@gmail.com.