Flood victims in the central New York community of Penn Yan are slowly recovering after nearly 150 homes and businesses were damaged following days of unrelenting rain in May. The Penn Yan Teachers Association is lending a helping hand to members and students.
Luckily, most PYTA members experienced only minor property damage, said Tina Webber, the local's co-president with Lisa Garvey. "We’ve given all of our members information and applications for the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund," she said noting the local also helped a member, whose home was severely damaged, with salvage and cleanup.
To help flood-impacted students and their families, the local is spearheading a gift-card drive throughout the district's three school buildings. The PYTA allocated funds to purchase gift cards - for gas, groceries and other supplies - and tasked school social workers with identifying and distributing the cards to students in need. The PYTA is also accepting gift-card donations from any local willing to help.
"Dozens were affected to differing degrees - some lost everything," said Webber. "We felt this was one way we could funnel help directly to our students, and alleviate some of the burden for them and for their families."
The Penn Yann flooding is a reminder about the importance of contributing to the NYSUT Disaster Relief fund, established in 2005 for charitable purposes to help union members recover after natural or man-made disasters. NYSUT assumes 100 percent of the administrative costs associated with the fund, a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization; contributions are tax deductible. The fund has provided grants to thousands of members in need. To contribute, visit www.nysut.org/disasterrelief.