Crown Heights residents receive Thanksgiving turkeys

Brian Cunningham and Rita Joseph pose with a constituent who showed up to get her Thanksgiving turkey.
Brian Cunningham and Rita Joseph pose with a constituent who showed up to get her Thanksgiving turkey.
Photo by Orlande Fleury

Sam Pierre, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian American Caucus (HAC) joined New York City Council Member Rita Joseph to distribute Thanksgiving turkeys, rice, beans and other cooking supplies to Crown Heights residents on Saturday, Nov. 19 around 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at P.S. 221 Toussaint Louverture Elementary School, 791 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11213.

The Haitian American Caucus (HAC) was founded in 2009 by Samuel Darguin, Samuel Pierre and Jeff Lindor, all Haitians, with the aim of reaching out to Haitian communities around the world to provide information, supplies and resources that promote self-development and success. Pierre is acutely aware of the need and desires to find the most humanistic approach to serving the community along with Joseph. They understand that the less-privilege families may not be able to afford to share a thanksgiving experience with their children due to financial barriers. It is extremely important to Pierre, Joseph, and Cunningham lead their community towards a fulfilling holiday experience.

Therefore, the food-drive was organized in partnership with Assembly Member Brian A. Cunningham, Florentine Ulysse, Elite Learners, New York City District Council Carpenter, Inc, and Support Black Art.

“When the Haitian American Caucus (HAC) approached me to support this project I was thrilled. My goal is to help disadvantaged communities both in Albany and on the ground here in our district. There is nothing more gratifying than helping your fellow by the sweat of your brow. More than 1,000 turkeys were distributed,” said Cunningham while distributing turkeys to families in need.

Florentine Ulysse, principal of the Toussaint L’Overture Elementary School in Brooklyn (left) and Rita Joseph (right) assisting constituents during the turkey giveaway.
Florentine Ulysse, principal of the Toussaint L’Overture Elementary School in Brooklyn (left) and Rita Joseph (right) assisting constituents during the turkey giveaway. Photo by Orlande Fleury

Florentine Ulysse, a Haitian American and principal of the Toussaint L’Overture Elementary School stated, “the school is more than just an academic institution; We aim to be a pillar of our community. We feel a great duty to represent our community in every way that we can, providing education and giving our children the tools to succeed in and out of the classroom.” Assembly Member Cunningham, a graduate of the school, has expressed that he feels duty-bound to give back to the community which gave so much to him growing up. “It is always a pleasure and privilege to work with Brian, you can always rely on him to get the job done he really cares.”

Cunningham and  Joseph recently collaborated to help the school raise the funds needed to renovate the auditorium. On another occasion, during the first week of school, Cunningham greeted parents, visited all the classrooms and welcomed  students entering the new school year. “Our Father’s Day event was held in our canteen on Sept. 22, 2022. Brian came personally, shook hands with the fathers, and shared a few words on the important role fathers share in their children’s lives,” stated Ulysse during an interview with Caribbean Life newspaper.

Joseph and Cunningham have been busy connecting and reaching out to the people of the community, who are also their neighbors. Sometimes a piece of legislation can have the same impact as a kind word or a helping hand. Work that requires boots on the ground cannot be replaced; that human touch is indispensable. “Seeing the smiling face of a mother who knows that she will be able to sit around the table with her loved ones and enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey, with abundant fixings to go around; it is moments like these that remind me why we do this work,” said Cunningham.

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