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QUEENS FEELS HAITI TREMORS

Flushing officials pledge aid for quake victims

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Flushing’s diverse community of leaders met Monday afternoon to dedicate funds and support to those affected by the earthquake that decimated the island nation of Haiti last week.

The event, hosted by Terence Park, the Korean-American president of the Our Flushing Political Coalition, was held at the Main Street headquarters of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, a testament to the cross-cultural singularity of purpose among Flushing’s leaders in the wake of the tragedy in Haiti.

“I don’t think this amount is a very significant amount, but our heart and our unity will reach out to people in many communities, and especially the community in Haiti,” Park said.

The local Asian American leadership, joined by local black, white and Hispanic leaders, welcomed Elsie Accilien, executive director of Haitian Americans United for Progress, a Cambria Heights nonprofit aimed at helping New York City’s Haitian-American and other immigrant communities, to the event by donating more than $3,000 to charities working to help the people of Haiti.

“I think it’s important, at this moment of incomprehensible tragedy in Haiti, that we get together to provide a little relief to the people of that poor country,” said Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association. “Our civic association is providing financial support, and I urged the other civics of Flushing, College Point and Bayside to donate to help the people of Haiti as well.”

Much of the money Accilien accepted Monday on behalf of the Haitian people, including $21 that Park’s young son Wesley contributed from his piggie bank, will go to an orphanage and school for orphans which were affected by the quake.

“On behalf of my country, Haiti, I want you to know we all are thankful for all the help,” Accilien said. “Thank you again, and on behalf of the orphaned children, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Acilien and the people of Haitian Americans United for Progress have been intimately affected by the tragedy. She estimated that about 30 of the 60 employees in the group’s office lost siblings, mothers or fathers in the disaster.

“There isn’t a single Haitian who lives anywhere who isn’t affected,” she said.

The event took place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a fitting date for such an affair, according to many who spoke on behalf of their communities Monday.

“We hope we can use this opportunity to use Dr. Martin Luther King’s spirit to come together and help the people of Haiti,” Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) said.

Haitian Americans United for Progress recommends that concerned citizens donate money to the Yele Haiti Foundation, Haitian American musician Wyclef Jean’s nonprofit organization, because 100 percent of money collected by the group goes directly to Haitian relief efforts, not to overhead costs or other uses. Visit www.yele.org for more information about Yele Haiti.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 5:44 pm, October 10, 2011
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