The Hellenic Advancement of Education and Culture, a New York-based charitable foundation, is donating $50,000 to the EMS FDNY Help Fund, a non-profit that offers crucial economic support to the families of the department’s EMS workers who have become sickened, injured or are financially struggling.
Some 150 EMS workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and another 600 are symptomatic. Despite being regularly exposed to illness and diseases, New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services workers receive only 12 sick days a year, rather than the unlimited sick days granted other uniformed service members, creating financial hardships for their families. When they surpass that limit, they effectively fall off the city payroll and need to find other means to feed their families and pay the rent.
In the city’s ongoing fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 4,000 members of the city’s EMS service have been the face of courage and resilience, alongside the city’s highly dedicated nurses and doctors and other critical support staff serving at area hospitals.
The Hellenic Foundation has also arranged through the New York State Nurses Association to provide a week’s worth of to-go meals, for members of the medical staff at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, in Washington Heights.
The freshly made meals will be prepared daily and packaged for delivery by the staff at the WaHi Diner, just blocks from the hospital, at Broadway and 164th Street in Washington Heights. These will be delivered midday each day for the next week, beginning Sunday, April 12.
The diner will produce roughly 150 meals per day for nurses, doctors, and other medical personnel risking their own safety to take care of New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hellenic Foundation was founded in 2002 by Efstathios and Stamatiki Valiotis, immigrants from Greece who settled in Astoria in the 1970s.
“New York is our home and it is where we raised our family. With our fellow New Yorkers suffering during this terrible pandemic, we feel an incredible gratitude to the men and women who answer the call, putting their own safety at risk in order to provide the critical medical care that is so badly needed,” said Efstathios Valiotis. “These are the people that always answer the emergency call when New Yorkers need help, but who is there to help them? We hope to offer some assistance – and sustenance – to those battling this devastating illness on the front lines. We salute you and we join our fellow New Yorkers in expressing our deep appreciation.”
“We would like to thank the Hellenic Foundation and the Valiotis family for their generosity and recognition of the needs of our FDNY EMT’s and Paramedics,” said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507 Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors. “Our members are often referred to as New York City’s Street Doctors, because we are out there every single day and night saving lives and loved ones, when there is no one else to turn to. Over the last month, with the massive spike in the coronavirus, New Yorkers have truly seen how irreplaceable the men and women of the FDNY EMS truly are to this city and its citizens. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to the members of FDNY’s EMS, and through this fund we are here for your needs as well.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, EMS workers have been forced to respond to a staggering increase in 911 calls and face serious potential danger of exposure to the virus. While they responded to more than 1.5 million emergencies in 2019, since the arrival of the coronavirus, emergency call volumes have soared, and in many cases have doubled to meet the emergency needs of fellow New Yorkers.
Many FDNY EMS workers have been afraid of exposing their own families to the COVID-19 disease and have been separated from their loved ones for prolonged periods of time since the outbreak began, with some taking up residence in their personal vehicles.
The FDNY’s EMS Help Fund is a 501c3 charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible, as allowable under the law. For more information about the Help Fund, visit: www.emsfdnyhelpfund.com/ or send checks to: EMS FDNY Help Fund, P.O. Box 25253, Brooklyn, NY 11202.
Efstathios and Stamatiki Valiotis, founders of the Hellenic Advancement of Education and Culture, donated $50,000 to the EMS FDNY Help Fund.
Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507 Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors after accepting a check from the Hellenic Advancement of Education and Culture for the EMS Help Fund.