The devastating earthquake in Port au Prince in January 2010, affected hundreds of thousands of Haitians and their families directly, and prompted millions of people across the globe to ask, “What can I do to help?”
At the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), staff members immediately asked whether our organization could find a way to help that was consistent with our mission to improve the health of New Yorkers. Staff reached out to local and national funders and community-based organizations to explore opportunities to help meet the immediate needs of the local Haitian population—many of whom still have family or had lost loved ones in Haiti—as well as newcomers displaced by the earthquake and adjusting to life in New York.
The Haitian communities of Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Rockland County are among the fastest-growing—but also the most underserved—in the Greater New York area. Collectively, they total more than 180,000 people and comprise one of the largest Haitian communities outside Haiti itself. Since the earthquake in January, these communities are in greater need than ever of health, legal, and education services. NYSHealth has recognized this urgent need by supporting the efforts of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Long Island Community Foundation, and the Haitian American Cultural and Social Organization (HACSO) Community Center in Rockland County to provide needed health care and services for those affected by the earthquake.
The Brooklyn Community Foundation, in partnership with United Way of New York City, established the NYC Haitian Community Hope & Healing Fund. The Fund supported a broad range of services, including legal and immigration services, English language education programs, mental health counseling, and facilitated enrollment for public benefits such as housing and insurance.
With support from NYSHealth and the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund, the Long Island Community Foundation established the Long Island Haitian Support Fund. The Fund helped provide mental health counseling for those directly and indirectly affected by the earthquake, and helped Haitians displaced by the earthquake to obtain Temporary Protected Status in the U.S. NYSHealth’s grants to both organizations have been earmarked specifically for health-related services.
The HASCO Community Center in Spring Valley has been a leader in providing social and health care services to immigrants from Haiti and local Haitian residents in Rockland County. NYSHealth funding enabled the Center to hire a case manager to coordinate access to preventive and mental health services for those affected by the earthquake. The case manager reached out to local schools, day care centers, and health care providers to raise awareness in the Haitian community about mental health issues and to connect residents with appropriate services.
Learn more about these grantees and their work:
The Long Island Community Foundation
Long Island Haitian Support Fund
The Brooklyn Community Foundation
Haitian Hope and Healing Fund
HACSO Community Center
Haitian Support Project