Tags Posts tagged with "Homeless"

Homeless

Dan Graziosi

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported in 2017 there were more than 550,000 homeless in the country. Three alumni from Ward Melville and Commack high schools have asked a simple question: How many are stuck that way simply because nobody can see their résumés?

“You never really know why someone became homeless,” said Dan Graziosi, 22, a Ward Melville graduate. He is chief executive officer of Lazarus Rising, a nonprofit created in 2015 that helps homeless people write their résumés and get ready for job interviews. 

“A lot of the people don’t necessarily see the skills that they themselves have, and sometimes showing this person that they have value is almost more important than making a résumé for them,” Graziosi said.

Matthew Sobel

Co-founders of Lazarus Rising, Ward Melville alum Matthew Sobel, 23, and Commack alum Matthew Rojas, 23, gave birth to the organization wondering, as sophomores at the University of Delaware, that if creating a résumé for them was difficult — two people who considered themselves privileged — then how tough would it be for a person without access to resources such as a computer?

“There’s a really unfortunate number of people who are experiencing homelessness,” Rojas said. “While some are unfortunately addicts, a lot of them don’t have basic things like a printer, Microsoft Word or they just haven’t had an interview in a long time.”

As they first walked into a Delaware homeless shelter in 2014, just a block away from their freshman dorm, the two did not have much in the way of community service experience. Yet at the shelter they met a man named Jeff, that while he had fallen on hard times since the 2008 recession, he also had years of experience managing more than 20 people at a warehouse. The only problem was his résumé was five pages of a single-spaced biography rather than the commonly accepted single page bulleting a person’s most applicable skills.

“It kind of took our breath away knowing that an employer is throwing that right out the window,” Sobel said. “It’s not Jeff’s fault — he just didn’t know what standards there are in résumés.”

In 2015 Sobel, Rojas, Graziosi, along with several other friends and compatriots, incorporated their talents into the non-profit Lazarus Rising, all while they were still undergrads. 

Matthew Rojas

“There is a subset of the homeless population that have the skills to be an amazing employee, but they simply lack the skills that we take for granted like being able to write a résumé,” Sobel said. “We all realized we came from super-fortunate situations, being from where we came from and what schools we came from. I came into college with minimal community service. It’s one of those experiences you really can’t understand until you do it.”

Lazarus Rising has grown to host more than 200 volunteers offering their services either in school or during their free time. They have college chapters at Binghamton University, University of Delaware, University of Maryland and the University of Pittsburgh and professional chapters in New York City and Philadelphia. Graziosi estimates that the organization has aided more than 300 homeless participants.

Volunteers for Lazarus Rising often spend approximately one hour with a homeless person working on his or her résumé. They then spend more time after completing mock interviews or even help the person navigate applying for jobs online.

Rojas said that it is one of the greatest satisfactions of his life having helped these people get back on their feet. “It’s a feeling that what I’m doing actually makes a difference,” he said.

Meanwhile the group hopes to expand its reach in New York state and eventually Long Island, most likely through local colleges like Stony Brook University.

All three alumni are out of college and have either found jobs or starting ones, but that has not stopped any of them from being active in the organization. While Graziosi will soon be taking on a job as a technology consultant for Ernst & Young, a professional services organization, he still plans to run as the nonprofit’s CEO into the foreseeable future.

Graziosi’s mother Sheila, a Setauket resident, said what her son and his friends have been able to accomplish has not only changed their lives, but the lives of many homeless.

“He’s amazing — I’m just so proud of him,” Graziosi’s mother said of her son. “He’s really getting so much out of it.” 

Lazarus Rising is looking for more volunteers. For more information about volunteer opportunities or to donate to Lazarus Rising, visit lazarusrising.org.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. File photo by Erika Karp

Homeless people living in Suffolk County might soon find a roof over their heads in Port Jefferson Station.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced May 10 that $25.6 million has been awarded to four housing developments on Long Island to create 239 affordable homes.

There is $8.1 million set aside for construction of six two-story buildings on vacant land off Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, north of East Grove Street and south of Washington Avenue. Phase One of the project would create 77 units, while a potential second phase would add an additional 31 apartments, according to Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) speaking during a May 22 Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association meeting. The site plan application for the project was listed as
“in-review” in Brookhaven documents as of April 30, though the property is already properly zoned for the requested use and it doesn’t require any variances, according to town spokesperson Kevin Molloy. The Port Jeff Station project would include 45 units for homeless individuals, half of which would be reserved for veterans, Cartright said.

“Our biggest concern, besides the tax part that they’re not bringing any kind of revenue to our community, is also the amount of kids that may come out of this facility.”

— Sal Pitti

The May 10 announcement ignited a strong reaction from the Port Jefferson Station community both on social media and at the May 22 meeting. Civic association President Sal Pitti said he, Cartright and representatives from Concern for Independent Living Inc., the nonprofit agency seeking to construct the facility, met in March to discuss the potential project, concerns of the community and the agency’s efforts to gain tax exempt status for the project from the state. Cartright and Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) both said May 22 they were caught off guard by the governor’s announcement about the funding.

“As soon as I found out anything about it, I ran into the supervisor’s office asking him what he knew about it and wanted to make sure that I had all the information necessary,” Cartright said. “Immediately afterwards we contacted the civic association … it was news to us as well.”

Pitti said he thought the organization had been less than forthcoming about its plans, suggesting Concern for Independent Living initially didn’t mention the potential second phase, which is also not referenced in Cuomo’s announcement.

“Our biggest concern, besides the tax part that they’re not bringing any kind of revenue to our community, is also the amount of kids that may come out of this facility, because more kids in our school district means more taxes on top of the taxes we’re already paying for that location,” he said.

Elizabeth Lunde, Senior Associate Executive Director for Concern for Independent Living said leadership of the civic association had been invited to visit one of the organizations other facilities, and the invitation remains on the table.

“Concern for Independent Living is a local organization that has been providing quality housing in Suffolk County for decades,” she said in an email. “We were founded in 1972 and our first office was located in Port Jefferson Station. We currently operate over 1,000 units of affordable rental housing that has made a very positive impact in Suffolk and Nassau Counties as well as Brooklyn and the Bronx.”

Several attendees of the May 22 civic meeting expressed displeasure about the project, suggesting Port Jeff Station already has its fair share of facilities for homeless people.

“Homeless families need a place to live — our community is a very giving community.”

— Edward Garboski

“Homeless families need a place to live — our community is a very giving community,” civic association Vice President Edward Garboski said May 22. A resident at the meeting responded, summing up a sentiment seemingly shared by most of the attendees: “We don’t want to be the only community giving.”

The Port Jefferson project is receiving only a small part of more than $200 million the state is awarding to build or preserve more than 2,800 affordable apartments across New York, according to a press
release from Cuomo’s office. The governor called the $200 million investment a “giant step forward to increase access to homes for families, seniors and our most vulnerable men and women across the state.”

RuthAnne Visnauskas, commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal program, said the investment would address the crisis of homelessness among other benefits.

“By delivering affordable homes to Long Island, we continue to grow its economy,” she said in a statement.

Romaine said the town is concerned about the governor’s announcement and suggested other ways he thought the money could be better used. He also instructed concerned residents to start a petition and direct it to Cuomo’s office.

“We’ve been begging the state of New York to give us some money to fix up zombie homes, and to make them available to first time home buyers and veterans,” he said. “We’d like that money going toward that housing, instead of building something new, how about we rebuild some of the neighborhoods that we lost during the Great Recession to foreclosures and zombie houses. How about giving homes to our veterans and first-time home buyers who are leaving the area.”

Northport High School students hang out in their boxes during the SHANTY event. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Northport High School students braved the cold Nov. 7 to raise money for the homeless.

Shelter the Homeless and Needy This Year is an annual event hosted by the school, designed to raise funds for both shelters and food pantries in the area. The event is organized by Students for 60,000, a humanitarian group based out of the high school.

The event requires every student participant to spend from dusk to dawn camping in cardboard boxes outdoors to simulate the experience of being homeless. Guest speakers from the food pantries SHANTY share stories and inform students about the efforts of their organization at the event.

Emily Cerrito, co-chair of SHANTY, said the event is more than 20 years old and is very popular among students.

“Everybody comes together and learns about the cause and, especially when the guest speakers come, you really get to learn what we’re here for,” she said. “Everyone gets the experience of being homeless, to know exactly what they’re working for.”

According to Cerrito, each participant is required to raise a minimum of $100, but many students go above and beyond that amount, with different methods of raising funds. The co-chair said about 90 students signed up for the event, so SHANTY raised at least $9,000, but she expects it will be much higher than that.

“I had a bake sale that I do every year,” she said. “I camp downtown and hand out flyers and tell everyone about the event and about the club in general.”

Northport High School students hang out in their boxes during the SHANTY event. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Northport High School students hang out in their boxes during the SHANTY event. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

She said others ask relatives, stand outside businesses and have events of their own to raise the funds they need.

Isabella Allocco, a Northport High School student, said she reached out to her community for donations as well.

“I went to my friends, neighbors, coworkers and parents and told them why I was fundraising,” she said. “Every small donation eventually added up to well more than I needed.”

Brianna Lenna, another student, said she thinks the event is important because it helps classmates put themselves in the shoes of the homeless.

“When we see them on the streets we don’t actually know what they’re going through at all,” she said. “And to experience something like this in the freezing cold, it just shows us how hard their [life] is.”

Student Nicole Lenna echoed the sentiment.

“I feel badly for them,” she said. “I feel like they need to be treated like actual people.”

According to Cerrito, the group raised more than $21,000 in total last year, which they distributed to food pantries including Island Harvest and The Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry in Northport. The members of Students for 60,000 vote where they want to send the money and how much each organization then gets. Island Harvest received $7,000, and the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry got about $14,000.

Stephen Harding photo from SCPD

A Setauket woman reported her homeless son missing last week and police are looking for the public’s help to find the man, who has special medical needs.

Stephen Nathaniel Harding, who goes by the nickname “Nat,” might be in the Selden or Farmingville areas, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. The mother has not heard from her son since May 22 and reported him missing on June 13.

The 29-year-old Harding has Type II diabetes and is addicted to heroin, police said. Authorities described the homeless man as white, 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown eyes and brown hair. He weighs about 200 pounds and has a scar on his forehead.

Anyone with information about Harding’s whereabouts is asked to call 911, or the 6th Squad detectives who are looking for him at 631-854-8652.

Alain Jean mugshot from SCPD

A homeless man shot another in Port Jefferson Station on Saturday afternoon, following what authorities called a dispute between the two.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, 22-year-old Alain Jean shot the victim, another homeless man of the same age, multiple times shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Union Street, which is between Hallock Avenue/Route 25A and the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

The victim was treated for serious injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Police arrested Jean after the June 11 shooting and charged him with first-degree assault.

His attorney, Happauge-based Donald Mates, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday.

The incident is the second violent one between homeless people that police have reported in the area over the last several days. On June 7, officers arrested and charged a woman for allegedly stabbing her partner to death in a parking lot.

Police said last week that 60-year-old Ada Robinson was arrested at the scene in the Home Depot parking lot on Middle Country Road in Coram, where she allegedly had fatally stabbed 55-year-old Ralph Anthony. She was charged with first-degree manslaughter.

Patrol officers had responded to a 911 call close to 7:30 p.m. that day when they found the victim, who was later pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.

Both Robinson and Anthony were homeless, and they were “at least common-law husband and wife,” according to the Homicide Unit’s Lt. Kevin Beyrer. He said in an interview last week that the pair had been a couple for a long period of time, but he wasn’t sure if the two were legally married.

Robinson’s attorney, Ronkonkoma-based Jason Bassett, declined to comment on the case.

She has previous charges of assault with a weapon pending against her, one felony and one misdemeanor, stemming from an incident in May 2015, in which Beyrer confirmed that Anthony was also the alleged victim.

Her attorney in that case, Central Islip-based Robin Stanco, did not return a call seeking comment.

Detectives are still investigating the June 11 shooting in Port Jefferson Station. Anyone with information is asked to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

Ada Robinson mugshot from SCPD

An incident between a homeless couple in a North Shore Home Depot parking lot has left the man dead and the woman behind bars.

The Suffolk County Police Department said on Wednesday morning that detectives had arrested a woman at the scene of a fatal stabbing the night before and charged her with first-degree manslaughter.

Patrol officers from the 6th Precinct were responding to a 911 call in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Middle Country Road in Coram close to 7:30 p.m. when they found 55-year-old Ralph Anthony had been stabbed, police said. He was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.

Homicide Unit detectives arrested 60-year-old Ada Robinson at the scene.

Both the victim and the alleged attacker are homeless, according to police. The Homicide Unit’s Lt. Kevin Beyrer said in a phone interview Wednesday that the pair was “at least common-law husband and wife” — they had been a couple for a long period of time, he said, but he wasn’t sure if the two were legally married. They frequented the Coram area where the stabbing took place.

Attorney information for Robinson on the first-degree manslaughter charge was not immediately available on Wednesday morning.

She has previous charges against her of assault with a weapon, stemming from an incident with Anthony on May 9, 2015, according to the New York State court system’s online database. Her attorney on the one felony and one misdemeanor charge for that incident, Central Islip-based Robin Stanco, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Wednesday morning.

Beyrer confirmed that Anthony was also the victim in the 2015 assault case.

Detectives are still investigating the stabbing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392.

This version corrects the date Ada Robinson allegedly assaulted Ralph Anthony in 2015.

by -
0 581
Cause Four Paws co-director Jason Fluger with his dog Brooklyn. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Smithtown Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is joining with Commack Middle School and Dr. Michael Good, the founder of an initiative called Homeless Pet Clubs, in an effort to find homes for animals. Good flew in from Atlanta, Ga., to speak to a group of about 30 Commack middle schoolers on Thursday afternoon in the school’s auditorium.

Good, a veterinarian, formed the Homeless Pets Foundation — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization — in 1998, according to its website. In 2010, Good started Homeless Pet Clubs as an adjunct to his foundation. The clubs are meant to encourage and organize students and community members to spread the word about specific animals that are in local shelters, in the hopes of finding suitable homes for adoption.

In an interview after the presentation, Good told the story of how he was inspired to start Homeless Pet Clubs a few years ago. He was attending an event for kindergarten age students designed to answer questions about a veterinarian’s job and what it entails. After about two hours of young children telling stories about their pets, rather than asking questions about becoming a vet, Good was hit with a stroke of inspiration, he said.

“What if we could get millions of kids all over this country telling stories about animals that don’t have homes?” Good asked. “That was the foundation of my Homeless Pet school clubs, and it has worked fabulously.”

The idea for Good’s clubs is fairly simple; Introduce homeless pets to middle school, or if Good has his way even younger-aged kids, allow them to spend time with the animals and take photos, and then empower the kids to spread the word about the animals. Kids are then made aware of when an animal is adopted, and given positive reinforcement for their role in saving a life. Commack’s version of the club will be the first on Long Island, although Good is always interested in expansion.

Renee Landsman and Jason Fluger teach at Commack Middle School, but they also run Cause Four Paws, an after-school club that meets monthly to educate students about animals and how to train them safely.

“Children love animals, and I think they should be encouraged to love animals,” Landsman said. Many Cause Four Paws students were in attendance for Good’s presentation, though they were not the only ones. Landsman and Fluger hope to make Good’s vision a schoolwide cause.

Smithtown animal shelter Director Susan Hansen also attended the event. She met Good at an event two years ago, she said. One of her first actions after beginning as the shelter’s director in August was to register on Good’s website to be a shelter rescue partner.

“At the shelter we’re approached on a regular basis by various Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, youth groups and individual kids that come to the shelter and say ‘I want to volunteer,’” Hansen said in an interview. “Unfortunately a lot of them are under 16 and at the shelter you need to be older to interact with the animals. I recognized that when you exclude that young population, you’re really discounting a tremendous resource, because as Dr. Good advocates, they can promote these animals virtually.”

Hansen believes in Good’s assertion that young students and social media can be valuable assets in finding homes for animals.

“Maybe you can’t give them a home, but maybe you know someone who can,” Hansen said about the importance of including youth in the effort to find homes for animals. “Spread the word and make a difference.”

For more information visit www.homelesspetclubs.org or call the Smithtown animal shelter at 631-360-7575.

Triple cancer survivor, veteran and volunteer firefighter seeks to give back to community

Albert Statton, above, stands in his gear as a Greenlawn firefighter. Photo from Statton

A Greenlawn volunteer firefighter, Army veteran and three-time cancer survivor has faced many battles in his life, but now he is fighting a different kind of battle.

Albert Statton, 64, created the Operation Enduring Care project at the Greenlawn Fire Department to collect food and clothing donations to help people who need immediate assistance and “offer them some type of comfort.” All of the donations collected will be given to The Salvation Army-managed homeless shelter at the Northport VA Affairs Medical Center.

Statton was drafted into the military in 1970 and served as a combat medic in Germany, Asia and across the United States. He finished his last tour of duty in the late 1990s but returned to his roots when he received treatment at the Northport VA after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. He found solace in dropping off items at the shelter on his way to chemotherapy.

“When being treated, it’s a physical and a mental battle,” Statton said in a phone interview. “I had highs and lows. I tried to make it a positive by bringing donations to shelter, so instead of going for me I was helping someone.”

He said the shelter for homeless veterans gets as many as 60 families a week that ask for assistance, especially during the holiday season.

Statton’s desire to help others is something he said he learned as a firefighter.

“You never say, ‘I was a firefighter.’ I am a firefighter and the things I have learned are ingrained in me forever.”

He said the volunteers at Greenlawn took his sick father to the hospital more than 20 times, so afterward he wanted to make a donation to the department to say thank you.

“I realized I didn’t have enough money to repay a debt like that,” Statton said. “I wanted to give back to the community the same way they did to my father.”

Statton served his community proudly until he was diagnosed with cancer.

He is impressed with the level of dedication all of the volunteers at Greenlawn bring to their work and how much they learned about the rescue system.

“So many people take the time to raise the bar on what’s available for the community,” Statton said.

He credits his cancer recovery to the members of the fire department for their inspiration and good wishes while he was sick, and their visits to his bedside at the hospital to pray with him.

One story in particular stands out in his mind: Statton, in the hospital, was once so battered by his treatment that he stopped breathing, and he found out later that at that same moment his comrades had begun a prayer group for him. He regained his ability to breathe minutes later.

“I had a very supportive network of brothers and sisters that encouraged me to persevere,” he said. “My respect and my love goes very deep for the fire department.”

Donations to support Statton’s effort to give back to local veterans can be dropped off at 23 Boulevard Ave. in Greenlawn. Statton said canned meats and vegetables are in high demand, as well as packaged undergarments and socks.

Police on hunt for three other suspects

File photo

A victim had facial injuries after being threatened with a knife early Sunday morning, during a robbery for which police said they have only arrested one of the four assailants.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers have arrested a homeless man in connection with the Coram crime, but are still searching for the other three suspects.

The incident began at about 12:45 a.m. on Sunday, when police said the four robbers, one of whom was armed with a knife, confronted the male victim on Middle Country Road, between Fife Drive and Erna Drive. Those suspects assaulted him, police said, and threatened him with the knife while stealing his leather coat and two diamond earrings.

The victim was treated for facial injuries at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and has since been released, police said.

A homeless man, 25-year-old Armad Johnson, was arrested the same day and charged with first-degree robbery, but police are still looking for the other three Johnson was allegedly working with.

Attorney information for Johnson was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment.

Anyone with information about the unknown suspects in the armed robbery is asked to contact detectives at the SCPD’s 6th Squad at 631-854-8652, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Francis Barrios mugshot from SCPD

Police arrested a homeless man for sexual assault on Tuesday night, after he allegedly attacked a taxi driver on a trip that started at a local hospital.

The Suffolk County Police Department said that the female cab driver picked up her passenger at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson that evening, but during the trip he assaulted her and the taxi crashed into a fence on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. The suspect, 34-year-old registered sex offender Francis Barrios, then sexually assaulted the driver.

Police did not release the name of the taxi company, to protect the identity of the victim.

Officers had initially responded to the crash scene when a passing motorist called 911, according to police, but the responders arrested Barrios after further investigation. He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted rape, second-degree strangulation and third-degree assault.

Attorney information for Barrios was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment. He was held overnight and scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

Social

9,204FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,119FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe