Mission of Helping Hands is to help homeless men and women find alternatives to
life on the streets.
An Urgent Appeal from Raoul Cansino
on behalf of the Helping Hands Board
Dear Helping Hands Family,
Just two months ago, at our annual gala at the Hilton in Pearl River, we celebrated fourteen years of fighting for the dignity of our homeless neighbors, and I said my last public farewell and thank-you to some of the many, many volunteers and donors who had joined hands with me to make this effort possible.
I knew at the time that Helping Hands was facing extraordinary challenges, but we were honoring each other, and I was confident that, just as many times in the past, we would overcome our challenges. And we do have a lot to celebrate:
· During fourteen Safe Haven seasons, we provided shelter and hot meals to thousands, proving that Rockland County could safely and effectively shelter its homeless population and laying the foundation for the Warming Center, which is serving over fifty people nightly this winter.
· Since 2009, our Outreach Center in Spring Valley has been helping men and women find jobs and housing, referrals to services, or simply a warm coat, a shower and a toothbrush.
· Under our umbrella the venerable Rockland Interfaith Breakfast Program has continued to cook up a hearty morning meal hungry Rocklanders every weekday morning, serving thousands each year.
· We are housing eight formerly homeless tenants in their own apartments through our new Rapid Rehousing Program.
I did know at the time of the benefit that our finances were at a low ebb, but that is typical in the fall of every year, and the end-of-year giving has always put us into the black, but I didn’t know how difficult our situation had become. As our president, James Fraser, explained in his recent letter, this year has been different:
· Our former Executive Director pled guilty to a charge of passing counterfeit money. This had nothing to do with Helping Hands’ finances, but the circumstances around his leaving caused us to lose two major county contracts.
· $70,000 in reimbursements for monies we are owed by HUD and the County for housing and for the Warming Center have been held up.
· A New York State grant of $100,000 that we were awarded in 2015 has yet to be disbursed, even though we have been forced to spend some of that money for a new van.
· A recent fire in the Outreach Center destroyed our shower and laundry facilities and has knocked our computer lab out of commission.
Despite all these blows to our finances and programs, we still believe that Helping Hands is essential in the battle against homelessness in our county. Our staff and volunteers are still helping our homeless neighbors—with food, clothing, housing and case services—and on January 24, Helping Hands will be coordinating the county-wide street count of unsheltered homeless people, which is essential for getting funding from HUD.
We are working every day to get the funding that will sustain these programs, and there has been some good news—Vincent Coniglio of Mackenzie Corporation, the Connight Foundation and the Rockland County Music Teachers Guild have all come through with significant donations.
If you have ever given to Helping Hands, thank you! Please give again, so that we can continue to help our homeless neighbors. If you have never given, now would be the right moment to step forward. Please help us keep the lights on and the door open for men and women who are homeless this winter.
Make your tax-deductible donation online, using our donation button, or by mailing a check to Helping Hands, PO Box 240, Nyack, NY 10960. Thank you!
I hope your New Year brings you the blessings of friends, family, peace and joy.
Founder and President Emeritus
PS Even in California, I’m still on the board of Helping Hands, so please stay in touch! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HELPING HANDS FOR THE HOMELESS OF ROCKLAND is a not-for-profit organization that provides Safe Haven for men and women 18 years and older during the cold season and a broad range of homeless services throughout the year, including case management and assistance with the employment, housing, and health goals of our guests. Our Outreach Center provides laundry, showers and men's and women's clothing, free of charge. The Outreach Center is located in the United Church of Spring Valley (11 E. Church St. Spring Valley, NY) and is open Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.