My name is David.
I work in a Nursery School in New York City far, far from Breezy Point.
A co-worker in the room next to mine with children roughly the same age. Shortly after returning to school after being closed for a week by Hurricane Sandy, my co-worker, moved by the catastrophic damage inflicted on Breezy Point in the Rockaways, took it upon himself to see if there was a nursery school in the area that had been affected by the flood and fire.
He found that Breezy Point had a single Nursery School and it had sustained substantial damage.
Their school had 92 children between the ages of 2 and 4.
After searching online for contact information, he managed to connect with Theresa, the Director of the Nursery School and one of its teachers.
The poor cell photo service in Breezy Point made it difficult for them to hear each other well, but he learned that the school had, in fact, sustained heavy damage, the majority of their supplies were lost and all the students and teachers had flood or fire damage to their homes.
Theresa was staying with her father in Manhattan and traveling into Breezy Point in the daylight hours to help assist finding living situations for her students, careful to leave by dark when the powerless Breezy Point became a desolate place.
Theresa had also found a temporary space in the Aviator Sports Complex, which she decided to rent in an attempt to keep some semblance of school open. Due to the loss of supplies and the plain painted cinder block construction of the rooms, it does not have the feel of a normal nursery school that is usually filled with paintings and projects by children. What’s more, on many Fridays, the teachers must consolidate the three classrooms by pushing all of the furniture into one room so the Aviator can rent the rooms on the weekend.
She felt it was important to have a place the children could go to get the normalcy of school back and allow the parents to concentrate on trying to salvage their homes, jobs and community.
Even not being able to hear all of the details of their plight, he felt compelled to help them in some way. He decided that he would involve the teachers, students and parents at his own school in a quest to collect much needed supplies for the temporary school that Theresa and her teachers were trying to keep open.
After hearing his account of the needs of children so much like the ones we work with every day, I wanted to help as well.
But before starting, I wanted to have an accurate picture of their situation and take account of what supplies were most needed so that our efforts would be as effective as possible.
Due to the difficulties of entering Breezy Point and the hectic schedule of Theresa trying to deal with so many issues simultaneously, our first two meetings had to be canceled. The third time, however, we managed to meet up and I got a more complete picture of the sad story and heroic efforts of Theresa and her fellow teachers.
Understanding how great their need was and certain that there were many generous people who would want to help with hurricane relief in some way, but would like to have a sense of where the help is going, I decided that, in addition to the efforts at our school, I wanted to share their story with a broader range of people.
So, I decided to use my experience as a photographer and my work with raising money for the arts to do as much good for them as I could.
This is my small way to tell the story of Little Tots Red Wagon Nursery School and help them get the money and supplies they so desperately need.
I am happy to say that the supplies coming in for the temporary space has satisfied the short term needs of the temporary class rooms.
Wooden Blocks & Four computers (destroyed in the flood) are still high on the list of needed equipment, but due to the nature of the temporary space, there is currently no place those items can be stored.
I will update supply needs as they become needed or possible to store.
The school will ultimately need to replace the bottom two feet of their wall along with the floor and electrics.
A Little Fact During hurricane Katrina, the Little Tots Red Wagon Nursery School shipped 150 shoe boxes of donated supplies with an return address in each box.
There was never any indication that they arrived. I will personally make sure that any supplies get to where they are needed.
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