• Hawthorne Smith, PhD

Director's Corner - April 2020

Updated: Oct 5


Essential.” Clearly defined as “fundamental or central to the nature of something or someone,” this word has taken on an even more profound meaning over these past weeks. As caregivers at Bellevue’s Program for Survivors of Torture, we hear it in terms of our own nascent efforts to confront the current pandemic, and the multitude of ways it affects our clients and community. Somehow, the word is readily attached to service providers – but not to the people we serve. This misconception cannot stand. Let us be clear: The clients we serve are absolutely essential to our community! Who picks the majority of fresh produce that makes it to our tables in this country? Who is driving our Uber or Lyft when we have no choice but to venture out in the city? Who is preparing and delivering our food as we wait in isolation? Who stocks the shelves of the grocery store? Who is sitting with, and caring for, our elders as home health aides while we are not even able to visit our loved ones? Who do we see braving the subways and the bus routes on those occasions when we have to commute ourselves? Frequently, the answer to those questions is a forced migrant or traumatized immigrant who came to this country to seek safety and a better way of life. Our community now recognizes that these survivors - though marginalized, vulnerable, and practically invisible, are taking significant risks and providing services that are central to the continued viability of our society. We come to understand that beyond providing services, these survivors hold a key to our essence as a people. If we hold them as truly “fundamental and central to our nature,” then we can honestly respond to the question, “Who are we?” by saying, “We are resilient, caring, intrepid, and ready to do our utmost for our neighbors.” That’s what our community is. That’s who our clients are. Essential. Survivors stand up for the community, and the ideals we hold dear. Will we stand for the survivors, recognizing that there is no delineation between “them” and “us”? I am confident that we will do so. Many have already responded to our appeal for emergency funds for those in vulnerable positions who will not qualify for the promised federal assistance. We are helping people with food, rent support, prescription medications, diapers and many things one may not think of until they are unable to acquire them on their own. This is the moment! We need you. Not only is your help crucial; it is essential. One love, Hawk







Your Support Changes Lives.


The Survivor Fund has set a goal to raise $10,000 that will go directly to our survivors, who have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and do not qualify for government assistance. If we reach our goal, we will be able to provide over 200 individual grants of $50 to survivors and their families.


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