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2017-10-06 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2017 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

October 6, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Chabad volunteers deliver storm relief to SW Florida


A team of volunteers along with Rabbi Pinny Backman, Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski, and Rabbi Fishy Zaklos help to remove debris from the home of a World War II hero, Katherine Nolan. A team of volunteers along with Rabbi Pinny Backman, Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski, and Rabbi Fishy Zaklos help to remove debris from the home of a World War II hero, Katherine Nolan. On Sunday, Sept. 17 Chabad Young Professionals of Tampa and Chabad of USF led 43 volunteers on a relief mission to Naples, a community hit hard by Hurricane Irma a week earlier and still reeling from the blow.

The team was comprised of students and young adults from north and south Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota. In Naples they met up with teams from Miami and Orlando, forming a convoy of kindness to provide hope and assistance, to the people of the region.

Upon arrival, the volunteers broke into teams based on their skills, and were then dispatched to locations across Naples and the Everglades. One team led by Aaron Silberman, an advisory board member of Chabad Chai of South Tampa, called the “heavy hitters,” were sent to the most difficult scenes, including patching a 10-foot hole in the roof of Rabbi Fishy Zaklos of Chabad of Naples.


(L-R) Deena Shabat, Erika Dunayer, Erica Turner distribute much needed supplies to the elderly residents at Goodlette Arms in Naples. (L-R) Deena Shabat, Erika Dunayer, Erica Turner distribute much needed supplies to the elderly residents at Goodlette Arms in Naples. The group then began driving to the location of someone who needed to be checked on. They arrived to find the home vacant, but the home next door had a huge tree hanging over its roof. The team knocked on the woman’s door, to find her in near desperation. A single mother, Joanne McWilliams, and her children were living in fear that the tree was about smash through their roof. There had been no power for several days and she had nowhere to turn.

Immediately the team reassured her they were there to help, and would remove the tree. Using chainsaws, machetes, and power saws, they removed the tree, limb by limb. “You must have been sent by G-d,” McWilliams said.

Another team was sent to remove debris and bring supplies to a school in the Everglades. Teachers there cried at the site of the Chabad volunteers.

And others were sent to clean up a home belonging to Katherine Nolan, a 96-year-old World War II hero. She was one of the few women serving in the military who helped liberate Nazi concentration camps. One of the volunteers whose grandparents survived those camps was awestruck by the opportunity to give back to Nolan, a woman who had given so much.

One of the most memorable moments came when a group visited a nursing home that had been without power for days and was running dangerously low on supplies. The volunteers provided them a truckload of drinks, snacks and clothes, as well as toiletries. The women began to pray in thanks for G-d’s help in the form of the volunteers. One lady told a student, “You’re a beautiful angel.”

Bill Barnett, the mayor of Naples, put it best when he addressed the group. “We needed your help, and you’ve answered the call, and we will not forget the kindness you’ve shown today.”

Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski of Chabad Chai of South Tampa and Rabbi Pinny Backman of Chabad USF commented on how inspired they were by the devotion of so many students and young professionals to help those most in need.

Rabbi Dubrowski, who helped organize the Naples trip, said that in addition to that effort, a U-Haul truck full of supplies was sent to Key West through Caring for the Keys, an organization started by a Chabad USF Alumnus who now is part of Chabad Young Professionals. Chabad Florida headquarters is continuing to send supplies and meals to the Caribbean as well, he said.

“While we hope and pray that there be no more natural disasters, it was heartwarming to see our community rise to the occasion, and give of their time and recourses to help out those who need them most,” said Rabbi Dubrowski.

The relief effort to Naples was sponsored in part by Doug and Maureen Cohn.


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