Category Archives: SMART News

Tragedy in East Harlem: Our Journey to Recovery

A Message from SMART’s Founding Director, Susan Rodriguez

It has been one week since the massive explosion rocked our East Harlem community, just a few blocks away from SMART’s office. Thankfully, we were not directly impacted by the blast. However, we continue to keep all of our neighbors affected by the terrible tragedy in our thoughts, and we will remain an active resource and participant as our community heals.

First responders

First Responders on the scene

 As a new member of the East Harlem CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), I was immediately deployed. CERT is a volunteer citizen group that works under the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). I reached out to fellow East Harlem CERT member Dr. Ann-Gel Palermo, who is also part of SMART’s Advisory Board. Dr. Palermo is also one of the leaders of the East Harlem Emergency Preparedness Collaborative.We met other CERT members at the designated base of operation.

Ann-Gel Palermo and Supreme East Harlem CERT members

Ann-Gel Palermo and Supreme East Harlem CERT members

 Throughout the day, we performed several CERT duties; by far, my most important job was to work with the American Red Cross to assess the special needs population that gathered at the P.S. 57 reception center. One woman, a recent liver transplant recipient, needed her medications. She had been evacuated from her apartment across the street from the blast site, and no one was allowed back in. I understood the gravity of the situation and conveyed that to the NYPD Community Affairs officer; together, we came up with a plan to escort the woman to her building to retrieve her specialized medication. 


Susan Rodriguez CERT member

Susan Rodriguez CERT member

 On the day of the explosion, and the days following, I gained a keen awareness of the importance of having the training and skills necessary to effectively support our courageous first responders: our firefighters, police, OEM personnel, the American Red Cross, the Mayors Alliance for Animals and ASPCA. Our City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, showed unwavering strength and leadership throughout this crisis as she toured the incident site and reception centers helping residents who needed assistance and services. 

Melissa Mark-Viverito at P.S. 57 March 2014

City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito at P.S. 57

Again, as our community heals from this devastating event, our hearts go out to all the individuals, families and businesses that have been affected. We also wanted to share City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s letter and Community Board 11’s message regarding agencies and volunteer efforts that are directly aiding in the recovery, if you would like to contribute to their important work. SMART will continue to share up-to-date information about the recovery efforts on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Help Design SMART’s Mobile Cooking Classroom – November 21, 2013

Come join us on Thursday, November 21st! SMART will host 3 visioning workshops that day to gather community input for the design of the SMART Mobile Cooking Classroom, a project that won funding through the Participatory Budgeting process and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito’s office. We want to know your cooking needs and aspirations! The hour-long workshops will take place at SMART’s office in LaGuardia Memorial House (307 East 116th Street – between 1st and 2nd Avenues) and will be geared for different populations. Check out the details below or call our office at (212) 289-3900.
Mobile Cooking classroom