Boston - As news of the Haitian earthquake spreads across the country, Massachusetts is mobilizing to assist its residents hit particularly hard by the devastating news. According to The Haitian Coalition of Somerville, Massachusetts is home to the third largest Haitian population in the country with an estimated 70,000 to 80,000. Therefore it is no wonder that the public schools in the area were also driven to come to the assistance of the many students and their families affected by this tragedy.
In a press release from January 13th, Boston’s Mayor Menino commented on the situation. “On behalf of the City of Boston, I offer my deepest condolences to those impacted by this horrible tragedy. As a city, we will come together to support the Haitian community both here in Boston and abroad in any way possible.”
According to the release, Boston Public Schools (BPS), arranged for crisis counselors to be present at several schools and educational complexes with large populations of Haitian immigrants and Haitian-American students and faculty. The school department also made automated calls to Haitian Creole speaking families to inform them of the community meeting and information session at the Cathedral.
Superintendent Carol R. Johnson will ensure that BPS students and families impacted by the tragedy can take advantage of all available resources. “During this difficult time, our first priority is the emotional and physical well-being of our students,” Superintendent Johnson said. “We have many students with ties to Haiti and we know that they and their families are waiting to connect with their loved ones. The Boston Public Schools community is ready and able to help our students cope with this crisis.”
Other resources provided by the Mayor’s office for families impacted by the earthquake include:
• The State Department’s information line: Individuals seeking information about family members living in Haiti are encouraged to call 1-888-407-4747. Press zero (0) to speak with a customer service representative.
• The White House’s official website, www.whitehouse.gov, offers general information about the earthquake and relief efforts in Haiti.
Other ways to assist victims of the tragedy include:
• Visit www.interaction.org for a list of credible responding organizations that accept donations for international emergencies.
• Reputable organizations include: Partners in Health (www.pih.org); International Red Cross (www.redcross.org); Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org).
Individuals can make $10 donations to the Red Cross by texting “HAITI” to “90999.” These donations will be charged to an individual’s cell phone bill.
Information about the city’s assistance efforts can be found at: www.cityofboston.gov.