Before moving to the US from Poland, I didn’t fully grasp the scope of inequality that existed in New York. New York, one of the wealthiest cities in the US, is also an extremely economically divided city.
For people from Europe, it is hard to imagine the depth of this divide. According to The New York Times, “last year the wealthiest 20 percent of Manhattan residents made $400,000 a year on average. The poorest 20 percent made less than $10,000.”
This hurricane really illustrates this chasm. After the terrible storm hit the city, thousands of people were left without power, electric or running water. Huddling in the dark, they were scared and venerable. Meanwhile, others seemed to be oblivious of the ones trapped below 29th street and were busy enjoying a lavish Halloween party hosted at the Waldorf Astoria. This is the same city – a few blocks apart.
The same city, the same day … just a few streets apart:
At a lavish Halloween party in Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Debra Messing dressed as Marie Antoinette, while thousands struggle in the aftermath of Sandy.
Pictures: Reuters, WJS, Jennifer Hirst, Tayef Farrar
Those who make up the backbone of our city: the army of cashiers, maids, waiters, nannies, and helpers had to remain and work – even during these most difficult times.
Americans hardly have any “days off”, and even a natural disaster is not enough of an excuse to take a day off of work. And honestly speaking, some families couldn’t afford to be without a job for even one day.
Getting any work these days is more difficult after the last economic crisis. So these who were affected most by Sandy were obviously the poorest. Some of New York shelters were in the really bad shape. People evacuating their homes, left with nothing . Shelters were in the bad need of donations of basic items, such as bottled water, flashlights, blankets, canned goods.
Two of my girlfriends (Hayley and Tayef) organized a fundraiser … through Facebook! They and their friends posted the info on their walls and hundreds of people, family, friends and friends of friends sent donations ($10, $20 via paypal) and within less than 24 house they raised almost $3000.
They raised enough funds to buy food and basic items for two shelters in need!
With only a couple of other volunteers (Josh, Gaby, Jessica, Kate and myself) we took a trip to Costco and bought 35 super warm blankets, tons of canned goods like: tuna, beans and chili, breads, peanut butters, milk, fresh fruit, coffee, potatoes, pastries and juice.
After shopping, Tayef and her husband Josh, drove a loaded van right to the Bowery Mission. They said that driving through the decimated city was surreal. It was pitch black in the city, there’s no gas – all the stations are closed. People are suffering terribly.
They said that when the first batch of donations was delivered, the shelter residents were overwhelmed and couldn’t express their gratitude enough. When Josh and Tayef arrived, the shelter was devoid of needed supplies, but by the time they finished dropping off the donations, they had a kitchen full of food & drink.
Today they are going to the second shelter. Hayley said that they are not finished with their efforts and the donations from generous people are still coming….
Please take a moment to consider this: One ticket to the lavish party on Halloween in Waldorf Hotel (pictures I posted above) cost upwards between $10,000 to $60,000 – BUT with only $3000 we were able to buy food for two shelters. Even though there is inequality in, there are people who still want to bridge the gap in NYC….
My personal message to Debra Messing – I love your acting, I admire you as a person, you can do better than dressing as Marie Antoinette while thousands struggle in the aftermath of Sandy. Please check the following website: http://www.communityaccess.org/
This is a sobering message Magda. I don’t have a pal pal account, but if you put in $100 for me, I will pay you back at Thanksgiving.
OMG! Thank you Carol!
Great post. It never ceases to amaze me that those with the least to give are often the ones who give the most. I’ve shared this on my website’s Facebook page. I hope it inspires others, the way it has inspired me.
It’s important to include the Waldorf event was the annual fundraiser for the New York Restoration Project (google what their main goal is although the nane should say it all). This year out of all years was most important that it was held- check out the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were raised that very evening for the non-profit! It far surpassed the 3k you mentioned that we’re raised from one person via fb. I believe we all must do our part but it is unfair to criticize an event that is purely focused on restoring NYC, especially in inner cities.
You obviously did your research with the googled images then why leave out the main purpose of why those people were there that evening and what progress was made to help those devastated by Sandy?
Hi Lisa, I just don’t think one needs to organize a huge party, waste so much food and energy, while half of the city is without any electricity. I’m not critisizing the event, per se, – just the timing of it.
A great piece. Thanks for writing this.
Thank you Sue!
Nice article! I’m so glad this is in English now. I was getting ready to try to learn Polish so I could follow.
Thank you Katie. It is still in Polish, as well. Just saying… 🙂