March 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Western Queens residents are coming together with acts of kindness to help those most in need get through the coronavirus pandemic.
In Astoria, a young family has taken the positives from a vacation cancellation by setting up a local volunteer group to help the sick, elderly and vulnerable throughout the community.
The newly-formed group, called the Astoria Mutual Aid Network, has been set up to deliver food, run errands and give advice to the needy. It had 65 members as of yesterday.
The group was established Friday by Ross and Maryam Mudrik as a way of turning their seven-year-old daughter’s spring break disappointment into doing good for the community.
“She’s a very community-minded person and we were trying to explain things like social distancing, community mutual aid and caring for our neighbors and realized that the best thing we could do was to put those values into practice,” said Maryam Mudrik.
The group plastered hundreds of fliers around Astoria Saturday and members have been taken back by the community response and the high levels of interest.
“The feedback has been incredible and we have grown to more than 65 volunteers already,” Mudrik said.
Volunteers greatly outnumber those seeking assistance right now as most people have stocked up on groceries and essential items but the group is using this time to mobilize its recruits.
They are gathering information on the types of services their volunteers can provide so as to help match the needs of those that will require help in the coming days, according to Mudrik.
“As the needs arrive we’ll be able to triage so when they need groceries or prescriptions etc. we have a list of stores nearby, so we can get them delivered to them as quickly as possible.”
The group will also help support people if they have any legal needs or require advice on how to keep safe as the community heads into an unknown period.
They will also help provide rides for people who have critical appointments.
Volunteers looking to join the group or those in need of assistance can contact Maryam and Ross Mudrick at 646-397-8383 or email [email protected].
Meanwhile, in Long Island City, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy has teamed up with New City Church NYC and Bishop Mitchell Taylor’s Urban Upbound to open a LIC Emergency Food Pantry at 10-54 47th Ave.
The space belongs to New York City Church and organizers say the food pantry will be open daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for those in need of food and other items.
Organizers are appealing to residents, business owners and restaurants for financial donations or donations such as non-perishable foods. All money raised will go toward purchasing supplies and food.
Deliveries are also being organized for the elderly who cannot make it to the pantry and organizers are also appealing for volunteers to work shifts or for drivers to make delivery runs if they have access to private transport.
Financial donations can be made by clicking on this link.
Patrick Thompson, from New City Church NYC, can be contacted at [email protected].