As I write this, the Robin Hood offices—located in southern Manhattan—remain without power, but thanks to you, we are far from powerless.
We invite you to join Robin Hood in an intense and focused effort to assist those hurt by the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. It is often the poorest among us that suffer most from a natural disaster. But catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy also create a new population of neighbors in need—those who find themselves newly homeless and suffering economic despair.
Yesterday, Robin Hood’s executive committee reactivated the Relief Fund that helped thousands of survivors after the attacks on 9/11. Then as now, our goal is to get help quickly and efficiently to those in the New York area who need it most.
I am pleased to inform you that in addition to reactivating the Robin Hood Relief Fund, we have reactivated our Relief Committee which will be chaired by my fellow board member, Victoria Bjorklund. I’m happy to announce that Victoria will be joined on the committee by former Robin Hood board member, Dirk Ziff —bringing together two leaders of the Robin Hood Relief Committee established after 9/11. We welcome their leadership and guidance in the coming weeks and months.
For the past four days, the Robin Hood staff has been carefully assessing the capacity of community partners in the hardest hit areas to continue providing the highest quality of help to those they serve. Our relief effort will require us to reach beyond our established network of grantees to assist those in need in areas like The Rockaways, Breezy Point and parts of Staten Island. But we have already started making in-roads. Some of this was done by phone, some by e-mail, and some by foot. If you have power and have seen the images on TV over the past few days, it won't surprise you to learn the needs are great and growing.
Robin Hood has already committed $3 million towards this effort. All of which will be distributed by next Tuesday in direct response to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Robin Hood is responding on a number of fronts:
Homelessness: The tens of thousands of New Yorkers made homeless by Sandy's effects are added to an already record number of homeless families in New York. With the destruction of so much infrastructure, that number is sure to climb to even higher levels, particularly in the areas hardest hit, like Staten Island. It won't surprise you to learn that our community partners have been working tirelessly to continue providing the highest level of service to our neighbors in need throughout all of this —from working extra shifts with little opportunity for rest to walking to work through wind and rain to make sure that someone was there when they were needed. Robin Hood Relief Funds will be used to provide immediate cash assistance to nonprofits facing these unexpected, extra operations so they can focus on caring for those in need.
Food & Blankets: With many families without power, their food has spoiled and their children are sleeping in cold homes. Robin Hood Relief Funds will provide an immediate increase in the amount of food and other basic emergency items being distributed where there is the most need —even if that means providing make-shift food distribution sites near the most badly damaged areas. If you would like to make a donation of blankets, food or water, please click here for a list of specific needs and drop off locations.
Lost wages: Many of our community partners have reported that the individuals they serve have been unable to get to work as a result of the closing of the transportation system. For a population that literally lives paycheck to paycheck, these lost wages result in significant damage to home and food security, making the choice between paying rent or feeding their families, that much more critical. Our experience after 9/11 has shown that small cash disbursements—as little as $100 or $200—can be critical to needy families in the days immediately following a catastrophic event. Robin Hood Relief Funds will provide immediate emergency cash for low income families who have lost income temporarily; individuals who have lost access to bank accounts and help for those suffering from heavy financial hits as a result of losing their homes or cars.
We have been approached by many donors about their desire to volunteer their time to help with the recovery efforts and to assist those most in need. On behalf of those we serve, thank you for your kindness and your offers. Please follow this link for a variety of volunteer needs throughout the city to learn how you can help.
As a donor to Robin Hood, you know that we take our role as the steward of your philanthropic dollars very seriously. We approach our response to Hurricane Sandy with the same level of commitment to quality and efficacy that we apply to everything we do.
We know many of you have been very generous to our core mission of fighting poverty in NYC. We thank you for that and will continue to count on your support. Additionally, as you consider how you might want to help New Yorkers in need during this difficult time, please consider giving generously to Robin Hood's Relief Fund.
If you have difficulty donating online, please try again and forgive us for our servers which are recovering after getting knocked offline by Hurricane Sandy.
Thank you for your ongoing support. Thank you for being Robin Hood.
Lee S. Ainslie, III
Chair, Robin Hood Board of Directors
Learn More: robinhood.org/rhsandy