Monday, October 12, 2015

Borough Park Relief Fund

This photo of Francisca Figueroa was taken in December 2013, when her salon, Franchezka Unisex, and the businesses on the block between 12th to 13th street, were featured on this blog. Last week, Francisca perished in the house explosion in Borough Park, Brooklyn. She was a lovely, generous woman with business sense and an integral part of our community. The shrine growing in front of her salon is a testament to that. We will miss her.

If possible, please consider helping the displaced families and covering funeral expenses and recovery needs of the families involved. Information from City Council Member Brad Lander, below.

-The BID Team

Council Member Brad Lander

Earlier this week, a horrible tragedy shook 13th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where a building collapsed following a gas explosion. Ligia Puello and Francisca Figueroa were killed in the blast, and we are grieving with their families. Three pedestrians and a dozen firefighters were injured. Four small businesses were destroyed. And nearly 50 of our neighbors were displaced from their homes, and lost everything they own. 
Together, we can help them. Please give to the Borough Park Relief Fund, at
I’m sorry I did not know Ligia or Francisca – but their families, friends, and neighbors describe them with love. Ligia Puello lived on the third floor of 4206 13th Avenue with her daughter Kimi. They were not only mother and daughter, but best friends.
And Francisca Figueroa operated a salon, Franchezka Unisex, on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue, just a few short steps from my office. A small memorial shrine has been set up outside the salon in Francisca’s honor. From the many heartfelt messages left among the flowers and candles, you can see that she was a much loved local businesswoman, neighbor, friend, and mother.
The Borough Park Relief Fund will help cover their funeral expenses, and help their family members recover from this horrible loss. And it will also help buy clothes, household goods, school supplies and much more to help displaced families recover. Please give generously.
New Yorkers step up in a crisis, and they sure have in this one.
Our first responders …
were on-the-scene from the very first minute, and round-the-clock since then. FDNY firefighters, NYPD police officers, the NYC Office of Emergency Management, HPD, the Buildings Department and Red Cross officials have worked tirelessly, professionally, and with great compassion. They put out the fire, made sure the surrounding area was safe, searched carefully through the rubble, set up a Resident Support Center to assist families who were made homeless in the blink of an eye, kept the community informed, helped try to restore the community, and showed great compassion to the families.
I could name dozens of them, but I’ll just mention a few: FDNY Chief Leonard (known to many of us in Brooklyn) may be chief-of-department now, but that did not stop him from leading watches at every hour. OEM’s John Grimm coordinated agency efforts seamlessly, and seemed to be there 24/7 for days. HPD’s Vito Mustacioulo was overseeing building demolition, but somehow still found time to help displaced families. And NYPD’s Captain Gonzalez provided a level of compassion for the Figueroa family, during the 36 hours while they were waiting on the site, that went far, far beyond courtesy, professionalism, and respect.
Neighbors and community groups …
stepped up to offer round-the-clock free coffee and water for first-responders. They offered shelter and comfort. Our friend Alexander Rapaport from Masbia (the Borough Park soup kitchen that provided hot meals for the elderly at the Park Slope Armory during Hurricane Sandy, and offers people meals with dignity every night just a block away), purchased thousands of dollars of food and supplies for displaced families.
Even the affected families themselves …
showed extraordinary compassion. One of the most poignant moments for me from the past few days was when the Figueroa family, in hours of unimaginable grief, bought a dozen pizzas for all the first-responders on the scene. Moments like that remind us of the extraordinary power of a compassionate community, and its healing powers through even the most difficult times.
Please join them in showing compassion …
Now, it’s our turn. Today, as those in Borough Park continue to grieve and attempt to move forward after their loss, we are launching the Borough Park Relief Fund, as part of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. I’m grateful to partner with the Borough Park Jewish Community Council, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and many other elected officials and organizations in the effort.
These funds will go towards helping both individuals and local business affected by the explosion attempt to recover and rebuild, including supporting relocation costs, lost or damaged effects and goods, and funeral and medical expenses.
Thank you for supporting our neighbors in Borough Park through their hour of need.

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