“Humanity has just witnessed one of the worst tragedies in history,” said Carlo Thertus, founder and owner of Creative Art Space for Kids, a nonprofit art studio on Atlantic Avenue in Lynbrook. “Haiti now looks like ground zero.”
When he heard about last week’s earthquake, recalled Thertus, who lives with his wife, Karen Michel-Thertus, and their 4-year-old son, Rico, in Island Park, he was concerned about his brother, Hansy Thomas. Thomas, who who lives in their family home in Port-au-Prince, helped the Thertuses start up the Haiti Relief Fund in 2004, after Hurricane Jeanne devastated Haiti.
“I found out that he had traveled to Florida on business the night before,” Thertus said of last week’s quake, “so he was OK.” Thomas’s girlfriend, who lived in the house with him and was traveling home when the quake hit, was also safe, Thertus said, but the house had been leveled. Their neighbors died when their home was also destroyed.
Michel-Thertus said that her brother-in-law, who owns an import-export business, Tropic Shells, in Port-au-Prince, is one of the few who has the means to accept and distribute relief supplies. His factory warehouse was spared, and the structure will be used as a relief headquarters.
“He will help with the distribution,” she said. “We are fortunate that we can help like this. He can get things in and out of the country.” Michel-Thertus explained that she would send large containers of needed supplies to the Dominican Republic from the studio, which has been designated Haiti Relief Fund headquarters.
Thertus serves as the organization’s president and CEO, Michel-Thertus is a vice president, and Thomas, a mechanical engineer, is vice president and coordinator of relief distribution in Haiti.
“Everyone that Hansy knows was affected in some way,” said Michel-Thertus. “He will fly back [from Florida] to meet the first container that goes there.”
“I am going down with the next container,” said Carlo. “They need leadership down there, and their whole infrastructure has to be built up again.”
The Relief Fund is accepting donated goods, which can be dropped off at the studio, at 48-D Atlantic Ave. Donors can also call (516) 578-1258 or 578-0603 to arrange for items to be picked up.
According to Thertus, items that are in demand include: