Thursday, February 14, 2019

The American Red Cross and CDCLI Kick-Off Partnership to Make Homes Safer



On February 13, 2019, Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI) kicked off its partnership with the American Red Cross on Long Island to make homes safer in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. CDCLI received training to carry out the Red Cross Sound the Alarm program, which installs free smoke alarms and provides fire safety education in at-risk communities across Long Island and across the country. 

CDCLI, a regional non-profit organization, was founded in 1969 by government, business, and civic leaders on Long Island who came together to address the growing demand for affordable housing. As part of its suite of services, CDCLI offers is the Weatherization Assistance Program, which is a free program provided to low-income Long Islanders, especially the elderly and disabled, to make their homes more energy efficient. 


As part of this new partnership, CDCLI staff will install Red Cross smoke detectors in each home that they weatherize moving forward, potentially helping to make hundreds of families safer every year. 

“CDCLI is excited to embark on this partnership with the American Red Cross,” Gwen O’Shea, President and CEO of CDCLI. “This initiative truly reflects our collective commitment to helping Long Islanders attain and sustain healthy and safe homes.”

The Red Cross responds to approximately 62,000 disasters per year, including more than 200 across Long Island. Most of these local disasters are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. The Red Cross wants to end these tragedies and save lives, the reason for launching this fire safety campaign in 2014. 

“We are thrilled to begin this lifesaving collaboration,” said Neela Lockel, CEO, American Red Cross on Long Island. “Thank you to CDCLI for making fire safety a priority!”


Across the country, the campaign is making a difference. As of early February, the Red Cross and their partners across the country have saved more than 500 lives and installed more than one 1.5 million free smoke alarms.

Sound the Alarm is a year-round program available to all. To sign up for a free smoke alarm, to join as a volunteer, or to provide financial support, visit www.SoundtheAlarm.org/li.

About the American Red Cross The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/li or visit us on Twitter at @LIRedCross.

About Community Development Corporation of Long Island 
Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI) invests its resources, talents, and knowledge in the people of Long Island, helping them to achieve their dreams of an affordable home in a vibrant community. Since its inception 50 years ago, CDCLI has assisted over 239,000 Long Islanders and invested $1.59 billion into the communities in which they live. CDCLI is part of the NeighborWorks network, an affiliation of more than 240 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen their communities. For more information, please visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Three Questions: Cassandra Philip

"Three Questions …” is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.


For this latest installment of “Three Questions…”, instead of highlighting a member of the Red Cross, we are featuring a recipient of our services. Last November, Cassandra Philip and her 20-year-old son Jaquan lost their Crown Heights (Brooklyn) home of 15 years to a fire. We recently met up with Cassandra to discuss the fire, their recovery and those who helped them get back on their feet.

What happened the night of November 7, 2018?


My son and I were at home asleep and I smelled smoke. I smelled smoke and I thought maybe he [son] was burning toast. I didn’t wake myself. But then I heard a voice that said, ‘open your eyes'. When I opened my eyes, the television was on fire, the curtains, everything was on fire. I can’t tell you what that voice was cause there was only two of us living there and my son was asleep. I didn’t hear our smoke alarm go off. I would have heard it, it was in close proximity to my bedroom.

The fire hit the bed by the time I got up. I tried to throw water on it but it was like I was throwing kerosene on it. The smoke…you see it on TV but you could not believe the black smoke that I saw. My son was up and I was hollering to my neighbors to get out. My son grabbed his phone and keys and called 911. The fire department, thank god for us, is not far. It’s on St. John's and Schenectady. They were there so fast. As I was coming out the front door they were there.

What the fire didn’t take, the water did. And to make sure there was nothing in the walls, the fire department had to tear through them. My son’s areas were a little bit more spared than the rest of the apartment. He recovered his dresser. 

But for me I lost everything. The thing that really hurt me was the picture of my mom and a watch my mom gave me. It's three years now she’s passed away. I can’t get it back. The watch didn’t actually work. The fact that she gave it to me is why I never got rid of it. Sentimental to me, yes, it’s close to me.

What happened after the fire? 


I went to the hospital. They said I had second degree burns on my foot. I had to have that dressed. And I’m also diabetic. So they were concerned about that.

When I got back from the hospital later that morning to meet with the fire marshal, a young man and a lady [from the Red Cross] showed up. They kept saying, ‘I’m so sorry that this has happened to you.’ He even gave me a hug which felt like a million, bazillion dollars to me at that point in time. It comforted me, it allowed me to just take it one step at a time, it told me someone cared. I know I have my son, but this is a complete stranger.

Their offer of a few nights at a hotel felt like heaven. I don’t know what heaven feels like but it felt like it. Before I knew about the Red Cross I said to my son, ‘Where are we gonna stay?’ He said we can stay upstairs. I said, ‘What? In a burned-out apartment?’ He said they’ll cover the windows and we would stay where his bed is. I said, ‘OK. I guess so. I’ll get a mask.’ We were going through this in our heads.

And a friend of mine came by with clothing and a jacket cause all I had on was my night wear. She said, ‘I went through my closet and you are a small so these things should fit you.’

And when I got to the Red Cross the next day and saw Patrick [caseworker], he went to get shoes, he went to get vouchers for glasses, a debit card so I could buy some things for me and for my son, some clothing. 

Where are you today with your recovery?

It’s still tough but we are comfortable.

After the fire I spoke to the super and he said the landlord said to put me in the apartment on the first floor. He didn’t have to do that. Tuesday after the fire we moved back in the building. He’s already given me a lease.

The outpouring from everyone, from my church, from friends, from where I work out…they were giving and giving. I had to give away a living room set because two were given to me! 

Reminds me there’s still good people in the world. Kind people.

And when I’m ready, I would like to volunteer because I want to give back that same sort of love and attention, and it is love, that was given to me and my son.


Monday, February 11, 2019

In Case You Missed It - Feb 11

Disaster Responder Esmeralda Herrera caring for a family's dog from an apartment fire in Brooklyn.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 58 adults and 26 children following 36 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Friday, February 8, 2019

Red Cross, JASA Kick Off Partnership to Prepare Thousands of Vulnerable New Yorkers

L to R: Josh Lockwood, Regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater NY;
Margaret S. Chin, NYC Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Aging;
and  Kathryn Haslanger, CEO, JASA
The American Red Cross and JASA; one of New York’s largest and most trusted agencies serving 43,000 older adults in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens; kicked off a historic partnership at JASA’s new Harlem facility, located inside the Riverton complex, to provide critical, hands-on emergency preparedness training to thousands of New York City’s older adults.

“Disasters large and small take a tremendous toll on our communities but it is often the elderly who are the most impacted. That’s why it is absolutely critical for us to take the necessary steps to prepare our vulnerable neighbors and the organizations that care for them. We applaud JASA for making readiness such a priority.”
- Josh Lockwood, Regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater NY

“It is our City’s moral responsibility to prepare the most vulnerable communities for any emergency that may hit – be it man-made or natural disaster. Older New Yorkers stand to be the most impacted, and are oftentimes left on their own to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. No one should have to face these tragedies alone. Thanks to the American Red Cross and Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA), our seniors will have now have a dedicated space to access the tools necessary to prepare for the next emergency.”
- Margaret S. Chin, NYC Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Aging

“JASA empowers older New Yorkers to live life on their own terms by helping them to remain safely in their homes and communities. This important partnership with the Red Cross will provide crucial, expert training so thousands of older New Yorkers are prepared to take an active role in the event of an emergency."
- Kathryn Haslanger, CEO, JASA

“We need to support our seniors in every way possible, and it is critical that all elderly New Yorkers are ready in the event of an emergency. The Council is proud to support the American Red Cross and Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA) for providing these emergency preparedness programs to our seniors, and I thank them for their efforts.”
- Corey Johnson, NYC Council Speaker

“I commend the American Red Cross and JASA on their collaborative effort to assist seniors throughout the district with emergency preparedness and readiness. While the possibility of impending local and natural disasters is constantly present, it remains vital that all residents are informed and aware of best practices and how to respond during critical conditions. Such training and preparation saves lives and keeps residents safe when faced with dire emergency situations that may arise in the future.”
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13).



The event is part of the Citizen Preparedness Training, a partnership between the Red Cross and New York State providing free emergency preparedness education. The presentation is taught by Red Cross preparedness experts and provides a comprehensive overview on how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters and how to respond to and recover from them. Among the training modules are sections on preparing for hurricanes, evacuating a home fire and (added just last year) responding to an active shooter situation.

Established in 2014, Citizen Preparedness Corps has empowered more than 60,000 NYC residents with emergency preparedness skills and resources.

To learn more about the Red Cross Citizen Preparedness Training, click here.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


About JASA
JASA honors older adults as vital members of society, providing services that support aging with purpose and partnering to build strong communities. JASA serves 43,000 older New Yorkers annually through programs including home-delivered meals, affordable housing, home care, legal services, senior centers, professional conferences, and more.

Founded 50+ years ago, JASA is proud to be the go-to agency for older New Yorkers. (For more information, please visit www.jasa.org or follow @JASASeniors on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)


About Riverton and the Honorable David N. & Joyce Dinkins Riverton Center
Built by Metropolitan Life insurance Company in 1947, the storied Riverton complex has been home to many high-profile Harlem residents, including former NYC Mayor David N. Dinkins, and remains a bastion of affordable middle-income residential life. Recent renovations by owner A&E Real Estate in consultation with the Riverton Tenants Association include the enhancement of grounds, athletic playground spaces—and the creation of the Honorable David N. & Joyce Dinkins Riverton Center, featuring JASA programming.






Tuesday, February 5, 2019

In Case You Missed It - Feb 4

NBC News Medical Correspondent John Torres donating blood at our headquarters.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 237 adults and 98 children following 66 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities