The Rockaways, located in the borough of Queens, New York City has a large number of Caribbean Americans, mostly Jamaicans, Guyanese and Haitians. The area was brutally ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in October. Thousands of homes were flattened, washed away or flooded. Within minutes the collective hope, dreams and aspirations of several working class Caribbean American neighborhoods had become shattered due to the incredible power of Hurricane Sandy, one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the eastern shores of the United States in decades.
Many residents lost everything and were forced to flee. And those residents who were able to remain afterwards were forced to endure many weeks with no lights, no water, limited food and no heat in freezing temperatures. To make matters worse, over a hundred additional homes were destroyed in a post hurricane fire that fire fighters were largely unable to quell due to severely curtailed capabilities related to the hurricane.
Despite the dark clouds of despair, a wonderful Christmas of selflessness with a steadfast sense of duty to the less fortunate is unfolding in the Rockaways. A tireless Caribbean American community activist by the name of Michael Duncan from Kingston has taken it upon himself to find ways to ease the plight of the battered and bruised residents. Mike, who residents describe in the most glowing terms, has an eighteen year relationship with Queens.So passionate is Mike about the welfare of his community that he’s throwing his hat in the race for the city council seat in the 31st district next year.
With the aid and assistance of community groups, churches, area companies, media houses, artists, local restaurants and a bunch of good Samaritans, Duncan has created an event called CHRISTMAS IN THE ROCKAWAYS that is designed to bring waves of holiday cheer to the needy in the Rockaways. Hurricane victims have been asked to make up Christmas wish lists and each list will be fulfilled, as far as possible, from donations of clothing, food items, care packages, toys and other Christmas gifts. This very welcomed celebration is a renewal of hope for the affected communities and it will take place on Saturday December 22 at the Far Rockaway High School from 9 AM to 5 PM.
To add an entertainment component to the day, a number of performing artists have volunteered their services. A New York radio station, Irie Jam Radio will broadcast live from the event and a digital media company, DC Digital TV will stream the day’s activities globally to smart phones and other digital platforms.
Michael Duncan, who is also founder and coach of the Rosedale Soccer Club in Queens has enlisted the support of the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York for his mission of goodwill. The consul general, Mr Herman LaMont has wholeheartedly embraced the project, and as chairman of the Caricom Consuls General Committee, LaMont had already been making substantial headway in providing hot meals and essential supplies to the area.
Support for the project is coming from many other quarters too. Pat Malcolm, president of a Brooklyn support organization called Women Supporting Women Ministires Inc. is throwing her full weight behind CHRISTMAS IN THE ROCKAWAYS. “Christmas is the time of year when people get lonely, sad, depressed and suicidal so it is very important that those who are able come forward in a big way to help”, Malcolm declared. For his part, Michael Duncan says he has been humbled by the outpouring of generosity from donors as much as he has been moved by the ‘back-to-basics’ nature of wish list requests that have been coming in from Hurricane Sandy victims.
CHRISTMAS IN THE ROCKAWAYS is an expression of altruistic, heart-warming thoughtfulness. It probably won’t bring peace on earth but it will surely bring a lot of goodwill towards the men, women and children in the Rockaways whose lives have been shattered by the not soon-to-be-forgotten Hurricane Sandy. There still is time for companies and individuals to participate in CHRISTMAS IN THE ROCKAWAYS and those wishing to do so may visit www.eachonesupportoneconcept. com.
Saturday December 22, 2012
9am – 5pm
Far Rockaway High School
821 Bay 25th St
Far Rockaway, NY