Nassau County Holds Prayer Vigil for Victims of Earthquake in Turkey

By A Correspondent
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman speaking at a press conference and a prayer vigil for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey. (PACE photo)
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman hosted a Press conference and prayer vigil for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey on February 15.

More than 40,000 people died in the earthquake with the death toll still climbing. Red Cross and other relief agencies say the 7.8 intensity earthquake affected an area in Turkey and neighboring Syria as big as the country of Netherlands.

Addressing the press conference and the special prayers at the Theodore Executive Building in Mineola, Blakeman said the earthquake affectees in Turkey are in urgent need of Tents, blankets, medicines, and warm clothes. He urged Long Islanders to generously donate to help the people of Turkey.

“As Americans, probably the best thing we can do is make a monetary contribution,” he added. Blakeman is an attorney by profession. He was elected to this position in November 2021 and assumed office on January 1, 2022. Prior to his election as County Executive, Blakeman served as a member of the Town of Hempstead Board, representing the 3rd Council District. He was first elected to this position in 2017 and was re-elected in 2019.

The press conference was attended among others by the Turkish Consul General in New York Reyhan Ozgur, town supervisor Joseph Saladino, American Red Cross CEO on Long Island Jose Dominguez,  supervisor for the town of North Hempstead Jennifer DeSena, Zach Erdem owner of 75 Main street restaurant along with Turkish-American business owners, and civic and community leaders. “Every dollar will help in the urgent rescue effort and years of rebuilding,” added Erdem.

In his remarks, the Turkish Consul General thanked Blakeman and other Long Islanders for their support of the earthquake victims. When asked what was the best way to help the affected people, he said getting tents, blankets and other items is logistically difficult and time-consuming. “Probably the best thing we can do is make a monetary contribution,” he added. He advised the people to donate cash to the Turkish embassy’s recommended charities, which anyone can access on their website.

Nassau County is home to a large Turkish-American community, the second largest in the nation behind New Jersey’s. The community members are in grief over staggering losses. With millions in dire need of aid, the population is spearheading a fundraising effort. According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2019, approximately 5,785 people of Turkish ancestry lived in Nassau County. It is important to note that this figure may not reflect the current population and may not specifically refer to Turkish Americans, but rather to individuals of Turkish ancestry. Additionally, the number may be an underestimate as not all individuals of Turkish ancestry may identify as such on the Census.

The press conference also featured a Turkish father from Turkey who lost his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren via Zoom, which left many participants representing different communities, including Pakistani business leader and chairman of Progress American Community Empowerment (PACE) Saeed Hassan sad and moved.

“It was really heartbreaking,” said Hassan. “A Long Island family lost a brother along with his spouse and children. These stories are painful,” added Hassan.

He said PACE will do everything in its reach to support our brethren in this time of need. “We cannot bring back everything, but we will help them to rise again,” he added.

The Pakistani American community has been actively supporting the earthquake victims in Turkey. The Pakistani American Association of Greater Houston, a non-profit organization, has donated $30,000 to the Turkish Red Crescent for relief efforts.

Hassan said PACE is a New York-based community nonprofit organization and will stand with our Turkish brothers and sisters by supporting them with funds and in any other way we can.

Arooj Islam(Executive Director) and Own Naqvi (Senior Coordinator) at the Office of Asian American Affairs Nassau County put great effort in making the event a success.

Nassau County is a suburban county located in the east of New York City. The county covers an area of approximately 453 square miles and has a population of around 1.3 million people, making it the second-most populous county in New York after neighboring Queens County.

Nassau County is known for its affluent communities, beautiful beaches, and world-class cultural attractions. The county’s economy is diverse, with industries such as healthcare, technology, and tourism contributing to its growth and success.

According to the 2019 ACS estimates, approximately 14% of Nassau County’s population identified as Asian, and approximately 10% of the county’s foreign-born population was born in South Asia.

Glimpses of press conference (Photos courtesy PACE)


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