Welcome to the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island

At the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI), our work is to ensure that our region is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone to live. We can set the standard for what an equitable region looks like. That means safe communities, decent, affordable housing, healthy food, access to care and an opportunity to thrive. In our quest for improvements and systemic change, we face a unique set of obstacles. In fact, the poverty rate today is at its highest since 1959. Given the current assault on the country’s most vulnerable communities, our work is more important than ever.

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Recent News

July 15, 2020

HWCLI’s New Partnership with International and National Relief Organizations to Respond to COVID-19 and Growing Hunger on Long Island

Huntington Station, NY (July 15, 2020) – The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) has created a partnership between international, national and local non-profit organizations to help address the growing crisis of hunger on Long Island by bringing fresh, hot meals to families in Roosevelt and Huntington Station.  Through its role as leader of a 150 agency disaster relief coalition helping families recover from COVID-19 and the economic fall-out, HWCLI helped to secure a donation of $100,000 from the Hispanic Federation, a national non-profit empowering and advancing the Hispanic community, and $100,000 match donated from World Central Kitchen, an international non-profit addressing hunger by working with local restaurants by providing jobs for their staff and meals for those in need. Through World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People Program, four local food establishments, the Imperial Diner in Freeport, El Sueño Mexican Grill in Huntington Station and Danny’s Deli in Huntington Station and Sangria 71 will provide thousands of Long Islanders with individually packaged, fresh meals this summer, specifically families and seniors in need.   Family Service League in Huntington Station and Choice for All in Roosevelt, two local community non-profits in HWCLI’s network, are assisting with the food delivery and distribution, as are Helping Hands Rescue Mission and the Huntington Assembly of God Church. “As COVID-19 ravaged our communities and the economic fall-out implodes, we’ve been seeing more and more Long Islanders not be able to provide enough food to their families.  There is a need like we have never seen before that requires new and creative solutions,” says Rebecca Sanin, President/CEO.  “This generous support and innovative partnership with the Hispanic Federation and World Central Kitchen brings new resources and an internationally proven program model to work with local partners in the community.” “The needs our families and communities are facing in Long Island are great and growing, and the scope of this crisis requires innovative partnerships that leverage the resources and collective strength of local and national institutions,” said Frankie Miranda, President of the Hispanic Federation. “We could not be prouder and more grateful to join this effort to address food insecurity in Nassau and Suffolk County with the Health Welfare Council of Long Island and World Central Kitchen.” Traditional safety nets like school feeding programs and food banks are struggling to meet basic needs.  Seniors, who are isolated for their safety, are unable to access meal services.  The World Central Kitchen internationally recognized model is now also on Long Island activating local restaurants to help meet this demand by providing jobs for their staff and meals for those in need. “We are so thankful to World Central Kitchen and Hispanic Federation for recognizing the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our suburban region and bringing a model and resources that are often used in cities but not thought of for suburban regions like Long Island,” says Sanin.  “With suburban poverty increasing on Long Island, we plan to expand this partnership and bring in other non-traditional programs and partners.  We’ve learned that we have to think out of the box when it comes to COVID-19 and Long Island’s existing and growing poverty.”

The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island is a not for profit, health and human services planning, education, and advocacy organization that serves Long Island's individuals and families. ###

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July 1, 2020

Latino advocates say COVID-19 stats don't include immigrants who avoid tests, die at home

By Jean-Paul Salamanca Read on Newsday.com

Latino advocates are worried that the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on immigrants on Long Island is greater than what state statistics reveal because of their reluctance to seek hospital care due to fear of deportation, medical costs and other concerns. In Nassau County, the death toll from COVID-19 is 2,182, including 236 Hispanics, with their death rate per 100,000 people at 133.5, second-highest behind Blacks, according to the most recent data from the New York State Department of Health. In Suffolk County, 1,979 have died of the virus, 212 of them Hispanics, with a death rate of 113.8, also the second-highest behind Blacks. The Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution says the age-adjusted death rate from COVID-19 among Hispanics and Latinos is 2.5 times that of whites. Gil Bernardino, founder of Long Beach-based Hispanic immigrant advocacy group Circulo de La Hispanidad, said immigrant families living in the country without legal permission face tough decisions when a relative is diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The fear is real,” Bernardino said. “People in the community, when you’re working and you are facing deportation and you have your wife and children, you’re living in fear, the entire family. When you have this kind of health crisis, you’re not going to go to the hospital just because you have the virus, even though the test is free.” Cheryl Keshner, a senior paralegal and community advocate with the Empire Justice Center, a statewide nonprofit law firm advocating for low-income families, agrees. The center has an office in Central Islip. “We know that the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color, particularly people who are low-income,” Keshner said. “A lot of people can’t socially distance if they’re living in super-crowded conditions, which a lot of people are because we don’t have enough rent regulations on Long Island. And a lot of Black and Latino workers are essential workers.” According to data from the Brookings Institution, only 16% of Hispanic Americans can work from home. And the CDC has acknowledged in its guidance that “people living in densely populated areas and homes may find it harder to practice social distancing.” Patients with severe cases of the virus that require admission to the intensive care unit, intubation and lengthy hospital stays can have bills that exceed $300,000. The median cost of a coronavirus hospitalization is about $14,366, according to a study from The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The Trump administration announced in April that through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, federal aid would be given to help hospitals with costs of treating uninsured COVID-19 patients. However, additional coverage and funds for testing and treatment — such as Medicaid, pandemic unemployment assistance or direct cash payments provided under the bill — are not available for nonresidents who don’t have green cards, are not work authorized, or haven’t been physically present here long enough to establish “substantial presence."
Martha Maffei, executive director of Patchogue-based Latina immigrant advocacy group SEPA Mujer, said a woman from one family who is living in the country without legal permission said her elderly father was diagnosed with COVID-19 and they simply isolated him at home because they were concerned about potentially high hospital bills if they sought treatment. Despite the separation, the family remained worried that they could contract the virus themselves within the small apartment. “Unless they see it’s really very bad and try to go to the hospital, they are just dying at home,” Maffei said. She and other advocates said they have heard from several Latino immigrants that they have been using home remedies such as herbs, gargling salt water, special teas and natural medications to treat the virus, which are not viable. Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, said the challenges facing not only Latino immigrants, but all other immigrant communities on Long Island during the pandemic, involve two major factors. One is that a large portion of the immigrant community works as essential workers in grocery stores and hospitals, and the other is that immigrants in certain areas tend to live together in “higher density,” or with multiple people inside a household. “What has changed is that the trajectory of this disease is so frightening that a lot of people who have been living in the shadows and who have been socially isolated aren’t coming out to get tested because they are concerned about the safety of their family and their future,” Sanin said. She noted that as a result of the Trump administration’s hard-line policies on immigration, fewer immigrants had been applying before the pandemic for services such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “The fear of scrutiny and family dissolution is so severe that people are forgoing basic needs and have been for several years,” she said. “I don’t think that’s different now. I think there has been a very cruel targeting of the immigrant community, and the response to that is that people have moved further into the shadows, particularly our really low-income immigrant community that is struggling.” Maffei said her group had been doing outreach through several measures, including a Spanish-language hotline, to answer immigrants’ questions about seeking treatment. In addition, SEPA Mujer has put out a resource guide for immigrants pointing out testing sites, food drives and deliveries and unemployment and temporary assistance services available for them. SEPA Mujer also provides rent assistance to single immigrant mothers who are living in the country without legal permission and also has brought cases to Suffolk County regarding employment and worker abuse involving immigrants being forced to stay on the job despite being infected with COVID-19, Maffei said. Keshner said immigrants need to know they could qualify for certain kinds of insurance such as emergency Medicaid and other financial assistance available through hospitals that would offset the costs of being treated for the virus. Bernardino said more needs to be done across Long Island to send the message that residents who are living in the country without legal permission are welcome to take a free coronavirus test, and potentially save their lives or others. “We need to have this kind of information reaching out to communities in a very clear way, that they can get the test without any repercussions,” Bernardino said.

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June 23, 2020

Business Council webinars to focus on nonprofits, construction

Updated June 22, 2020 4:50 PM By James T. Madore james.madore@newsday.com @JamesTMadore Click here to read on Newsday.com The Long Island Business Council is launching a webinar series on Tuesday about recovering from the coronavirus-induced recession. The first one-hour webinar is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. and will feature nonprofit leaders Rebecca Sanin of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island; Renee Flagler of Girl Scouts Inc., and Randi Shubin Dresner of Long Island Harvest. The construction industry will be the focus for Friday’s 11 a.m. webinar with Kyle Strober of the Association for a Better Long Island; Mitch Pally of the Long Island Builders Institute, and council co-chair Richard Bivone. Each webinar will be moderated by council executive director Michael Harrison. The council lobbies government on behalf of entrepreneurs. More information can be found at libcny.org.

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Established in 1947, the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) is a regional, nonprofit umbrella organization for health and human service providers. We are dedicated to improving the lives of Long Island’s most vulnerable residents by responding to their needs through the promotion and development of public policies and direct services.

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We've Moved! 110 Walt Whitman Road, Suite 101, Huntington Station, NY 11746

Phone: 516-483-1110

Fax: 516-483-4794

E-mail: connect@hwcli.com

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