Director’s Blog :

Good morning, all,

I am working with local, county and state authorities to create a pollinator pathway on the large grassy patch in front of the WESPAC office.  I will keep you posted as soon as the NYS Thruway Authority gives its final okay.  A big thank you to Anne Jaffe Holmes with the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County who has given me excellent guidance and has connected me to key people.  I am also grateful to Patricia Weems who has made excellent connections on our behalf.
 
If you are interested in donating your expertise or human labor to creating this pathway once the approval comes in, please let me know!  We are very excited about this project as there are so many benefits.   Municipalities all over the world are figuring out ways to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels with lawn mowing.  There are many, many secondary benefits to creating meadows and pollinator pathways including preserving micro diversity of local flora and fauna, protecting native plants and species, enhancing the health of our overall local ecosystem, increased nourishment for our local pollinators (without which we have vastly reduced food supply) and on and on:  https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/dublin-in-bloom-city-thrives-under-new-wilding-policy-1.4235320

Food Pantries & Distributions
*Check www.feedingwestchester.org for their regularly updated calendar of food distributions
*Try to check by phone or internet first for all distributions, as things are changing often because of coronavirus.
To sign up for notifications of drive-thru food distributions across Westchester, you can register here with Feeding Westchester.
For the mobile food pantry, which offers fresh produce, dairy, protein and grains, click here for the calendar.
For special temporary distributions, click here for the calendar.
White Plains
White Plains Community Action Partnership
Madison House, 70 Ferris Avenue, White Plains, New York 10603
Emergency Food Pantry
Call (914) 428-7030 for information
White Plains – Lifting Up Westchester
Meals available 10:30-11:30 a.m. weekdays, including Thanksgiving Day, at Grace Church Parish Hall, Grace’s Kitchen, 33 Church St., White Plains; call Deborah Williams at 914-948-3075 Ext. 9310, email [email protected], or visit https://www.liftingupwestchester.org/food-outreach.
*Because of coronavirus, lunches will be in bags for takeaway.
First Seventh-Day Adventist Church
180 Juniper Hill Rd, White Plains, NY 10607
Doing two distributions per week. Arrive by car preferred, but they will also give food to those who come by foot. One bag of food.
Tuesdays 11am-12:45pm
Thursdays 1pm-2pm
New Rochelle
Hope Community Services
St. Gabriel’s Church
50 Washington Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801
Dial for food – 914-636-4010
Breads, fruits, rice, peanut butter, and other supplies are available. They also offer surplus USDA Commodities, like cheese or meat.
Saint Gabriel’s High School has on site the Hope Community Services Food Pantry
Address – 50 Washington Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801
Phone number – 914-235-2607
Food distribution hours: Alternate Wednesdays 9:00 Am – 12:00 Noon; Closed In August
Salvation Army New Rochelle Food Pantry
Supports all of Westchester County. Call for free food and other assistance.
22 Church Street, New Rochelle, New York 10801
Telephone number – 914-632-0381
Hours: 1st and 3rd Wed: 2:00- 4:00 PM
Boxes of groceries, referrals, and more is passed out. Other items include the Angel Tree Christmas toy program and Thanksgiving/Easter meals.
https://hitesite.org/resource/8652
Shiloh Baptist Church Food Pantry
185 Lincoln Avenue
New Rochelle, New York 10801
914-636-7440
Hours: 3rd Saturday Every Month 9:00 Am- Noon
Union Baptist Church Food Pantry as well as Soup Kitchen
438 Main Street, New Rochelle, New York 10805
Phone – 914-632-3627
Hours: 2nd And 4th Monday From 6:00 PM- 8:00 PM. The hours of the soup kitchen are Friday 6:00-7:30 PM
Get free food or referrals to local charities or nonprofits. They also offer Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving turkey dinners (for free) with all the toppings.
Mamaroneck
Larchmont/Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force, Mamaroneck CAP
Address: 134 Center Avenue, Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Call the food bank at 914-698-7140
Hours: Every 2nd & 4th Tuesday 7-8:30PM
2nd & 4th Wednesday 9Am-11Am
Bags of groceries, basic needs such as clothing, baby formula, and more is served.
http://www.lmfoodpantry.org/
Mamaroneck – St. Thomas Brown Bag Lunch
168 West Boston Post Road
Mamaroneck, New York 10543
914-698-0380
Hours: Tues; 11 Am – Noon
https://www.saintthomasmmrk.org/index.php/brown-bag-lunch/
*Call first to confirm if they will be open, but they hope to be, and those who come can take a bag of food home.
Mount Vernon
Bronx-Westchester Community Church
Center address – 358 South Ninth Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY 10550
Call the food bank at 914-663-1374
Hours: 2nd and 4th Saturdays From 2PM-4PM
https://networks.whyhunger.org/organization/view/16192
Grace Baptist Church Food Pantry
Address of the facility – 52 South 6Th Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY 10550
14-227-8828
Hours: Every Third Wednesday Of Month 1:00-4:00 PM
Some of what may be offered includes rice, cereal, canned juices, tuna, meats, peanut butter, bread, dairy and more.
Sacred Heart Food Pantry
115 Sharpe Boulevard South
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
914-668-7440
Hours: 1st Thurs Of Month-Seniors And Disabled 9am-Noon , 4th Thurs Of Month – Community 9:00 -11:00 am
Numerous amounts and types of food is passed out. Groceries, rice, breads, frozen items and more. Free holiday food baskets, turkey dinners, ingredients and more are offered too.
Saints John Paul And Clement Food Pantry
126 South Ninth Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
914-668-0551
Hours: Friday 8:30-10:00 Am (Closed July)
First Reformed Soup Kitchen
135 South Sixth Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
914-664-3846
Kitchen and food distribution Hours: Monday 5PM-7PM
A hot breakfast, lunch and/or dinner may be served.
Mount Vernon SDA Soup Kitchen
230 Columbus Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
914-664-8586
Hours: Sunday Noon-2:00PM
Free meals are served, including at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
https://networks.whyhunger.org/organization/view/16198
Other Cities
Croton-Cortlandt Emergency Food Pantry
Food bank address – 19 Old Post Road South
Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520
Call 914 271-3150
Free groceries and more is provided to qualified low income families.
https://www.foodpantryincroton.org/
Cortlandt Manor – Holy Spirit Food Pantry
1969 Crompond Road
Cortlandt Manor, New York 10567
Phone – 914-737-2111
Hours: 3rd Or 4th Monday 6PM – 8PM And Wednesday 10am – Noon
Harrison Community Services Food Pantry
1 Heineman Place
Harrison, New York 10528
914-670-3026
Hours are only Last Thursday 7:45am – 9:00am
(Call In Advance For Food Bags or to make an appointment). There may be pasta, baby formula, meat, baked goods and more.
https://www.harrison-ny.gov/community-services
Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, United Methodist Church Of Mt. Kisco
300 E. Main Street
Mount Kisco, New York 10549
914-977-3295
Hours: Tuesday 5:30PM-7:00PM, Wednesday 9:30Am-11:00Am
Immigrants and migrant workers are also welcome at this free food pantry.
https://www.mountkiscofoodpantry.org/
Don Bosco Community Center
22 Don Bosco Place
Port Chester, NY 10573 (map)
[email protected]
Tel: 914-939-0323 x11
Food pantry and soup kitchen – call first to confirm
Monday – Friday Soup Kitchen – 10:45 – 12:45pm
Tuesday/Saturday Food Pantry and Children’s Closet – Tuesday (8:00 – 10:30am) and Saturday (7:00 – 9:30am)

Greetings to all from WESPAC!

Our Annual WESPAC Awards Gathering is now an online gathering scheduled for Saturday, June 13th from 7pm to 8:30pm.  We truly hope that as many of you as possible will be able to join us as we honor the outstanding work of Sister Jean Fallon (Maryknoll), David Peters (New Rochelle Against Racism) and Noah Wagner and Leah Alper (If Not Now) as they continue to work tirelessly for a more just and peaceful world.
 
Please consider taking out a journal ad in support of our 46th anniversary and annual awards gathering (details for taking out a journal ad attached).  Please make your awards gathering contribution here for either general support, to attend our online gathering or to take out a journal ad.  If you are able to support WESPAC at levels that you have in the past, it would help us enormously as we have lost important revenue from renting out our beautiful office space.  Please help sustain WESPAC through this pandemic!  We are counting on you!  Let us know that you care and that you want WESPAC to keep our lights on and operations running!  Any amount at all will be very much appreciated.
 
We thank all who have already sent in contributions for our annual gathering and are happy to offer refunds upon request since there will be no actual sit down dinner this year.  The WESPAC Board is working hard to make our annual gathering as enjoyable as possible as we all adjust to new working realities.  Details to join the gathering online will be emailed to all registrants closer to the date.
 
We hope that you and your loved ones are safe as we mourn the loss of all those who have passed during this pandemic.
 
The struggle for justice continues,
 
Nada

This is such an amazing offering from our precious local farmers.  Thank you, thank you, thank you: 

This is a community effort of farmers, growers, and non profits organizing to support our community in this time of need, in the Westchester, NY area. Our Mission is to assemble “grow-bags” from our nurtured seedlings and burlap sacks. These grow- bags will be near fruiting stage and will provide you and your family with a bountiful harvest throughout the season, with care. Please see the flyer for full information and fill out the Google Form to request and reserve your vegetable grow-bags and arrange delivery. We will deliver around the Westchester area, starting on 4/29. Please feel free to contact us with any questions! See the flyer for information.

https://forms.gle/oQkHFQC8vg2FxwrK6

Best,

Natalia

Ruby Olisemeka is a Food Justice leader in Mount Vernon and will be coordinating a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery in her home town of Mount Vernon. The food is being produced by Rock Steady Farm in Millerton, NY, and will help provide nourishing, high quality produce to dozens in Mount Vernon. Rock Steady Farm and Flowers is a women and queer owned cooperative farm, rooted in social justice, growing sustainable vegetables, flowers and herbs in a holistic manner for our Hudson Valley bioregion. The WESPAC Food Justice fund has contributed $4,000 to this CSA effort, and we are hoping to raise another $6,000 to help nourish at least fifty people in need for the twenty week growing season. Every person has a right to high quality, fresh and local food.
If you would like to make a contribution for this effort, you may do so here: https://donorbox.org/rock-steady-farm-csa-delivery-in-mount-vernon
Thank you very much in advance for considering,
Nada

For Immediate Release

March 20th, 2020

 
Contact:  Nada Khader at 914.449.6514
 
Bail Reform & the COVID-19 Pandemic in New York State 
 
WESPAC joins our community partners including Center for Community Alternatives, Citizen Action NY, FWD.us, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights and Color of Change, in New York City who have issued the following fact sheet regarding bail reform and the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State.  With confirmed cases of the virus reaching both Sing Sing prison and our county jail here in Westchester County, we need to release any person who does not pose a threat to public safety in order to contain any potential viral outbreak, and we must insist more urgently than ever on no rollbacks to the bail reforms that were passed in 2019 that reduce the numbers of people detained pre-trial.
 
KEY FACTS 
 
● COVID-19 will spread “like wildfire” in New York’s jails, putting incarcerated people, staff, and surrounding communities at risk. 
 
○ Jails are uniquely poor sites for stopping or containing viral outbreaks. Social distancing is virtually impossible in the close-quarters of New York’s jails. Hand sanitizer is contraband and access to soap, toilet paper, and handwashing facilities is highly limited. 
 
○ People in jail have disproportionate rates of chronic illnesses that make them vulnerable to the coronavirus. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 40% of incarcerated people suffer from chronic health conditions, including 20% with asthma (versus 11% in the general population).
 
 ○ Healthcare in New York’s prisons and jails is chronically inadequate even without a pandemic. In the five years from 2013-2018, 50 people died in New York State prisons from want of adequate medical care. In 2016, India Cummings died in the Erie County jail in a case ruled “homicide by medical neglect.” In 2017, Nassau County renewed its contract with a for-profit company to provide healthcare in its jail, despite state findings that inadequate healthcare by the same company led to the deaths of five people incarcerated in the Nassau County jail in 2015. 
 
● Bail reform rollbacks would exacerbate a public health crisis. 
 
○ New York State made the responsible decision to pass bail reform last session. As a result, there are nearly 7,000 fewer people being held in county jails on any given day. 
 
○ The bail law rollbacks proposed by the Senate Democrats and under consideration by the Governor will increase the number of people in jails and the length of time people will spend in jail. Rolling back bail reform would mean more people unjustly in jail without a trial, which is not only inhumane, but threatens further spread of coronavirus. 
 
○ Many of the people now spared pretrial jailing under New York’s bail reform law would have spent 1-3 days incarcerated pretrial under the prior system. These “short-stays” provide no safety benefit, while destabilizing families, and risking greater spread of COVID-19 in both jails and the surrounding community as thousands more people will cycle in and out of unsanitary, unsafe conditions and back into the community.
 
 ● It is not responsible to advance bail reform rollbacks in an “accelerated” budget process. 
 
○ Policy changes should be data-based and deserve a democratic process and thoughtful policy setting. Changes to the bail law will impact tens of thousands of people directly and will have dramatic and poorly understood impacts on the health of all New Yorkers. Pushing through bail reform rollbacks on an accelerated timeline, especially when they have been in effect for less than three months, is not responsible policy-making. 
 
○ In light of the coronavirus and the expedited budget process, there would simply be no way to debate these issues responsibly and democratically, and during a public health crisis, it would be devastating to subject more New Yorkers to the COVID-19 health risks of pretrial incarceration. 
 
○ Bail reform is working. Each day in February 2020, there were 6,800 fewer people incarcerated pretrial in New York’s jails than in February 2019. This is 6,800 people who are not exposed to heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, people who are not subject to the trauma of pretrial jailing or the violation of their constitutional rights. 
 
○ Nationally, healthcare advocates and others are calling for bail reform and decarceration efforts like we have achieved in New York. 
 
● New Yorkers need investments in healthcare, housing and other services
 
 ● Governor Cuomo needs to stop trying to put more people in jail by rolling back bail reform and focus on the real problem: A lack of meaningful access to healthcare, programs and services. 
 
 
KEY RESOURCES & NEWS COVERAGE 
 
1. The Marshall Project: “When Purell is Contraband, How Do You Contain Coronavirus?” 
 
2. New York Times: “Our Courts and Jails Are Putting Lives at Risk” 
 
3. Huffington Post: “Nearly 500,000 People Who Have Not Been Convicted Are In Jail At High Coronavirus Risk” 
 
4. Mother Jones: “To Arrest the Spread of Coronavirus, Arrest Fewer People” 
 
5. Syracuse Post-Standard: “Bail reform causes a big drop – 100 inmates – in Syracuse jail. Reason might surprise you” 
 
6. Justice Collaborative: “Explainer: Prisons and Jails Are Particularly Vulnerable to COVID-19 Outbreaks” 
 
7. The Guardian: “Calls mount to free low-risk US inmates to curb coronavirus impact on prisons” 
 
8. Mother Jones: “Correctional Facilities Are the Perfect Incubators for the Coronavirus” 
 
9. Prison Policy Initiative: “No need to wait for pandemics: The public health case for criminal justice reform” 
 
10. Human Rights Watch: “US: COVID-19 Threatens People Behind Bars” 
 
11. New York Times: “An Epicenter of the Pandemic Will Be Jails and Prisons, if Inaction Continues”  
 

Hello all,

I have been receiving lots of alerts from Westchester County Department of Health, Westchester County Government, electeds, nonprofit leaders and more about resources available to our community at this very intense time.

 
I have pinned a post to the top of the WESPAC Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/WESPACFOUNDATION/ regarding resources that are currently available.  I enter comments below the post as I receive more information about resources available.  This post will be pinned to the top of the page for the foreseeable future, so that members of the public can find in one centralized location what resources are available at this time.  Since it is a public page and public post, you are welcome to use the comment section to add additional information/resources as you become aware of them.
 
The good news is that China is reporting no new domestic cases of the virus and is sending doctors to Italy and Iran.  There is light at the end of the tunnel,
 
Nada

WESPAC’s investment advisor is Andrew Friedman with AJF Financial Services. In this one hour Zoom presentation, Andrew will discuss recent market turmoil, the importance of “systems investing” and the urgent need to protect ecosystems, that when disrupted by human activity, can cause serious disease. How can we use our money and investments to create the world we want to live in? This Zoom session will be facebook livestreamed. Andrew Friedman, President and Founder of AJF Financial Services, is a Certified Sustainable Investment Professional, Certified Financial Planner, a member of the Financial Planning Association and a Registered Investment Advisor. He will speak for the first half hour and then open up to questions. Instructions to join via Zoom:

Topic: Systems Investing
Time: Mar 18, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/467689904

Meeting ID: 467 689 904

One tap mobile
+16465588656,,467689904# US (New York)
+13126266799,,467689904# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 467 689 904
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acArP5mloy

Join by Skype for Business
https://zoom.us/skype/467689904 

NYHC Co-Chairs NHC Rental Working Group
From Rachel Fee:
 
I am excited to announce that I am co-chairing the National Housing Conference’s Rental Housing Working Group with Buzz Roberts, President & CEO of the National Association for Affordable Housing Lenders. The National Housing Conference is getting ready for legislative success following the 2020 election. They are convening a series of working groups to make recommendations for the next major national housing legislation.
 
It has been over 50 years since our country came together to draft a comprehensive national housing act to address our housing crisis. It was proceeded by the National Housing Acts of 1937 and 1949. The National Housing Conference was a leader in all three of these initiatives. Given the nation’s growing problem of housing affordability, we are long overdue for comprehensive housing legislation.
 
In thinking about a path forward to improving our nation’s housing challenges, I believe that we need to invest in our public housing infrastructure; kick-start a massive production program and ensure that rental assistance makes housing opportunity a reality for those in need. To get there, here a few of my initial ideas:
 
  • Establish Federal Housing Supply Goals with Interagency Responsibility (HUD, Treasury, USDA, VA, IHC, others) including an annual report to Congress and taskforce for cost reduction. This will force coordination and strategic planning across tax and budget programs.
  • Move Section 8 & Section 9 funding to the mandatory side of the federal budget. This will end annual fights between discretionary budget priorities and underscore that housing is a human right.
  • Establish a new standard Basic Necessities Deduction for extremely low income households to increase residual income. For extremely low-income families, especially those living in high-cost cities, not enough is left over each month to meet basic needs beyond shelter.
  • Create a New Disposition Program for Underutilized Federally Controlled Property suitable for housing development. Post office redevelopment, infill on VA campuses and other examples already exist. Maximizing disposition opportunities will reduce development costs and create needed housing.
  • Exempt Private Activity Bonds Used to Finance HUD-Assisted Housing from State Volume Cap. This would make preservation possible for public housing, 202s, 811s and other HUD-assisted housing program.
We are still developing these and other ideas for consideration. What are your BIG ideas? Email me with your ideas here to improve and expand housing policy by March 6th.

Time is running out to win climate, jobs, and justice in this year’s New York State budget.

We need to act now.

Sign up to visit Senator Pete Harckham’s Peekskill office on February 28th at 2 p.m. to request climate, jobs, and justice in this year’s budget! We will meet at 1:30 p.m. at Dunkin’ Donuts, Crossroads Shopping Center, 1101-09 Main Street, Peekskill, NY, 10566. Parking instructions will be emailed to you after you sign up.

February 28th is the last time our legislators and/or their critical legislative teams will be in their district offices before they submit their budgets for final negotiations. We need to make sure they hear from us about how critical it is to include climate justice funding in this year’s budget.

FOR EXAMPLE — We’re asking for at least $1 billion now, and at least $7 billion per year by passing the Climate and Community Investment Act. What’s this?

The Climate and Community Investment Act will make polluters pay for the toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases they emit into our air. It would raise $7-$10 billion per year that would be invested directly into our communities. This money would fund:

  • Green jobs and infrastructure: Building utility-scale wind turbines and solar panels, making our buildings more efficient, updating our electric grid, expanding public transit upstate, and more

  • Community Just Transition Fund: Direct grants to community orgs to support community-led energy planning, reduce local emissions, and increase resiliency. 75% of funds go to marginalized communities.

  • NY Energy Rebate Fund: Direct assistance to low and moderate income families to reduce the burden of energy costs. Families are automatically opted in.

Impacted Worker Fund: Cash and job training to impacted workers, funds to replace lost tax revenue for municipalities and school districts, expanding economic development programs.

Join us to tell Senator Harckham on February 28th: we can’t wait — fund climate justice now!

We will make sure you’re prepared and trained with materials, talking points, signs, and leave behinds. Meet at 1: 30 p.m. at Dunkin’ Donuts, Crossroads Shopping Center, 1101-09 Main Street, Peekskill, NY, 10566, parking instructions will be mailed to after you sign up.

Senator Pete Harckham stood with us last spring when the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was passed. Let’s make sure he does it again, and funds climate justice in this year’s budget and beyond.

In solidarity,

Lobby Lead for NY Renews