Hostos Community College, local organizations, and members of our extended community are coming together to help veterans and healthcare workers in our beloved borough, letting them know they are not alone during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hostos connected with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) in early April through Hostos History professor Ernest Ialongo. His wife, Nicole Branca, serves as the agency’s Associate Commissioner, and Ialongo shared with Hostos President David Gómez that DVS was looking to partner with organizations throughout the five boroughs to house lunch boxes that would be distributed to veterans and their families. Eager to help, the College offered the use of the cafeteria as a warehouse and distribution center and worked with Latisha Russaw, Director of Constituent Services at DVS, and the New York City Department of Sanitation and NYC Emergency Management to coordinate the delivery of over 4,000 lunch boxes, of which more than 800 arrived at Hostos on April 21. Each box contains an assortment of food, which may include a Cup of Noodles, dried macaroni, crackers, chicken spread, a muffin or bagel, and a juice box, depending on availability.

DVS is coordinating lunch box delivery with local Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) Surf Vets, SAGE Vets, Samaritan Daytop Village, Housing and Services, Inc., Jericho Project, Bronx Community Board 9, Food Bank For New York City, HELP USA, Harlem United, Volunteers of America, American Legion and Black Veterans for Social Justice, Inc. DVS has also offered lunch boxes to Hostos students who are veterans and their families. 

“It has been an honor for Hostos Community College to assist in this endeavor,” said Joshua Rivera, Director of Government and External Relations at Hostos. “Being able to get resources into the hands of those who need it most, especially those that have already given of themselves to defend and protect our freedoms, is the absolute least we can do.”

Members of the College community, including Rivera, have also mobilized to collect Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from businesses in our community for healthcare workers at Lincoln Hospital and Montefiore Hospital. Among them, Idelsa Méndez, Development Manager at Hostos, helped procure 100 KN95 masks for Lincoln Hospital and 100 more for Hostos’ essential workers from managers at the new Food Bazaar supermarket located in the Bronx Terminal Market. Additionally, Hostos received 1,000 surgical masks from Boston, as well as approximately 100 surgical and 100 KN95 masks from China, thanks to Xiaodong Lin, Professor of Cognitive Science in Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College and Director of Education for Persistence and Innovation Center (EPIC), who helped the College procure the invaluable PPE for the hospitals. Additionally, Hostos donated gloves and Tyvek suits directly to Montefiore. 

In a time when we are encouraged to remain physically distant, the College is committed to combining our efforts and resources to ensure that we get through this together. Thank you to the Department of Veterans’ Services, the New York City Department of Sanitation, New York City Emergency Management, Hostos’ campus operations team and public safety officers, Professor Ernest Ialongo, Professor Xiaodong Lin, Idelsa Mendez, Joshua Rivera, Diahann McFarlane, and everyone else who helped facilitate efforts to serve our local heroes during these difficult times.