Jamaica, Queens | NYC

Veterans Rebuilding Life revised its mission to respond to Covid-19, which paralyzed the United States and the world. Based out of Queens, NY, VRL was at the epicenter of the pandemic.

Within the first 3 months VRL raised more than $10,000 in cash in addition to pro-bono services and distributed over 50,000 PPE items including masks, latex gloves and hand sanitizer to essential workers on the frontline across the five boroughs.

Two years later the impact of the pandemic still resonates especially in lower income communities, of working families, many of whom lost their jobs as the result of the pandemic.

Among those is a grassroots charity in Jamaica, Queens jita.org brought to VRL’s attention by one of its supporters, a frontline worker with the NYC Fire Department (FDNY).

“The most difficult thing we experienced is when we had a food shortage, there was a line of about 300 people. We’d never experienced anything like that.”

—Danette Rivera, Founder, JITA.ORG

The charity, ‘Jesus is the Answer’ provides local and refugee families free food and essential items including baby diapers and formula, cleaning products, clothes and school supplies. It relies on private donations and the NYC Food Bank.

VRL made an assessment of what Ms. Rivera needed to meet the demand from her community.  VRL then rallied its members, including veterans and NYC first responders and raised $2,000 to purchase appliances to store and prepare food including a microwave, a fridge and a freezer and a year’s supply of baby formula, wipes and diapers in addition to PPE.

VRL believes in sustaining the fabric of communities that support it. Among those are populations that cannot ask for help despite them being paralyzed the most by the pandemic.

‘We started making signs in Spanish and posting them everywhere, saying that if you’re undocumented, if you need PPE and nobody’s helping, here’s the pickup address’ said Dre Popow, VRL co-founder. The next morning, there was a line around the block with Hispanic people, well over 100 people.’

‘I’m just thankful that we’re able to open our doors as long as we have, and hope to be able to keep them open,’ said Rivera.