To work closely, directly and systematically with the WTC recovery workers at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills with the goal of identifying and quickly providing, without red tape or workers’ personal expenditure, the tools, equipment, and health, safety and comfort supplies that they need in order to do their difficult jobs well.
Right after September 11, London Allen learned that firefighters and police had no masks or filters at Ground Zero. London and Rhonda struggled to locate supplies, and to convince companies to donate them or to sell them to us at cost. We were able to secure these crucial items quickly and in large quantities. Working with NYPD Precinct 1, we were able to deliver these items directly to police and firefighters at Ground Zero — loading them directly in police vans.
As we grew larger, and began to gather items in greater quantity and to meet specific needs, we tried to deliver our supplies through the OEM and other official systems, dropping them off, for example, at Pier 40 for transport by barge to Ground Zero. But, several hours later, we heard from those in need at Ground Zero that our respirators, so desperately needed and urgently requested, had not arrived. We never did find out where our shipment had gone. Apparently supplies were being grabbed at the perimeter and not getting to workers who needed them most in the middle of the debris.
Vowing not to “lose” such hard won and badly needed supplies again, we converted Rhonda Shearer’s art studio at 302-304 Spring Street into a warehouse (less than a mile from Ground Zero). We stockpiled our supplies there, secured our own trucks, and created a supply route to all posts around Ground Zero. The WTC Ground Zero Relief project was then placed under the official umbrella of the not-for-profit 501(3)(c), Art Science Research Lab, codirected by Rhonda Roland Shearer and Stephen Jay Gould.
We differ from all other supply sources, and fulfill an important need for immediate and targeted response, otherwise unaddressed (and usually ignored by the official agencies, despite abundant evidence for constant and continuing vital need), for the following reasons:
- We actively call and drop in at all supply posts (whether Red Cross, Salvation Army, FEMA) to determine directly what supplies they need on an immediate basis. (We do not worry about who gets credit.)
- We own a warehouse that we try to keep well stockpiled and is located within 5 minutes’ drive of Ground Zero.
- We are determined to get whatever supplies are needed for immediate and direct delivery, including special orders.
As the groups of volunteers that operated around Ground Zero were closed down by OEM (at Stuyvesant High School, for example), many of these volunteers joined our operation.
Our expanded operation also serves firefighters and police personnel right from our 304 Spring Street warehouse, located right across the street from the NYPD Internal Affairs office. We continue to run our supply route to all Ground Zero posts (as they continually change and become updated).
In addition, we used to bring supplies directly to NYPD personnel at Fresh Kills, and to the FBI medical trailer serving the 600 NYPD, FBI and Sanitary workers there, with items ranging from cough drops to electronic thermometers to blood pressure cuffs and antibiotics. We are now blocked by OEM and are trying to regain access.