NEW YORK (January 25, 2010) — 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East—the largest healthcare workers union in the country—today announced that it is donating $1 million to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF for earthquake relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. In doing so, the union announced a special UNICEF fundraising drive among its membership as part of a broader collective effort to mobilize the community and offer resources to those affected by the crisis in Haiti.
"This tragedy has hit 1199 very close to home. Our union has tens of thousands of members who are of Haitian descent in New York and Boston," said President of 1199 SEIU George Gresham. "We are grateful that organizations like UNICEF are there on the ground, providing life-saving supplies, emergency personnel and equipment, as the number one priority right now is to prevent a second wave of disaster.”
“In the days since the earthquake, we’ve had an outpouring of support from our members inquiring how they can help. While 1199 SEIU stands ready to send healthcare worker volunteers once Haiti’s infrastructure is ready to receive them, in the interim, we will aggressively raise money from our membership and allies for UNICEF’s relief efforts so everyone can help in some way.”
One-hundred percent of 1199 SEIU’s donation and that of its members will go directly to Haiti, where UNICEF has been working since 1949. UNICEF is leading emergency relief efforts in the areas of water and sanitation, nutrition, child protection and education.
"On behalf of the children of Haiti, we accept this gift and applaud the efforts of 1199 SEIU," said CEO and President of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern. "Knowing that many 1199 members are of Haitian descent and have family members in and around Port-au-Prince makes this contribution and the efforts of the union that much more heartfelt."
Children - which comprise half of Haiti’s population - are the organization’s number one priority. In the days ahead, UNICEF will focus on providing clean water, medical supplies, temporary shelter, protection and therapeutic food for undernourished children. Providing access to clean water and sanitation is essential in the immediate aftermath of disasters, to avoid a second wave of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Another very important focal point during an emergency is child protection. UNICEF is working to protect unaccompanied children and eventually reunite them with their family. UNICEF will also enable children to return to school throughout the recovery.
All along the Eastern seaboard, there are tens of thousands of Haitians and Haitian-American members of 1199 SEIU. In partnership with UNICEF, the union has also launched a special Haiti relief website at www.wecareforhaiti.org as well as a special toll free Haiti relief hotline number at 1-877-875-6561, to help provide crisis counseling and assistance to anyone affected by the tragedy.
In addition, the 1199 SEIU Haitian Caucus and members in Massachusetts have mobilized a coordinated response to the crisis. The union’s Boston office is serving as the City’s Haiti Relief Resource Center and has partnered with the City of Boston to set up free counseling service for members of the Haitian community there.
To donate to the ongoing emergency relief efforts in Haiti, please visit: www.unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call 1-800-4UNICEF.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress -- the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 24,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
About 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
With 350,000 members in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington D.C., 1199 SEIU is the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the country. Its mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.