This letter may be overdue but there is no time like the present to say thanks. A horrific Anti-Semitic hate crime occurred at Port Washington PAL clubhouse at Sunset Park this past Fall. Vandals broke into our building and painted 13 large swastikas in our clubhouse.
A swastika is not just a swath of paint, it is a painful reminder of one of the worst atrocities in history. It was a gut punch to the entire community, especially those involved in the PAL programs and organization.
In the days that followed something wonderful happened. Members of our community rallied against the hate and stood beside us at PAL. Our local clergy and politicians led the way. Thank you to Rabbi Jodie Siff and Rabbi Mike Mishkin. Thank you as well to Senator Anna Kaplan. Your support and guidance during this challenging time was helpful.
Thank you to the community at large. Via social media and word of mouth we learned that we were not alone. The outpouring of support was overwhelming. Thank you to Danielle Elkins and Robert Elkins for leading the way. Danielle created a Go Fund Me campaign that raised more than $25,000. The goal of the campaign was to repair, restore and rebuild what had been desecrated and broken. In the days that followed some wonderful friends of our program came forward to help clean up the mess. Greg Panullo of All American Paint was first to help repair, and he removed most of the swastikas. A few days later William Balelo removed some additional ones and power washed walls and painted our doors and more. Material was donated by Alper’s Hardware. Additionally, Robert Scaffidi secured the rear door that had been broken. Next, Steve Licciardello strengthened the back wall so we could install a commercial gate to better secure the building. We also received a donation of stacking shelves by Andrew Feigin to help us better organize our supplies. Recently the Art Honors Society at Schreiber High School under direction of Nicole Thomas created a mural that proudly hangs on our backstop.
It has taken a few months and we are repairing, restoring and rebuilding. The Go Fund Me campaign has and will finance security enhancements to our building. The rolling gate has been up for months. We enclosed the dugouts where people were congregating in the evenings. We recently installed a new storage shed to enable us to remove supplies from clubhouse and turn the clubhouse into an area where our participants can congregate. An alarm system has been purchased and installed to help prevent future occurrences. We regret that we were not able to make a statement against the hate. The pandemic has made us think it more important to avoid large gatherings than rally. At a future time, we do hope to properly address the incident.
We are grateful for the towns’ support and look forward to continuing to provide quality programs for all. As the high school mural states, at Port Washington PAL “Everyone is welcome to play here.” We are also interested in hearing from you if you have something to share with us. My email is email@example.com and I would love to hear from you.
Thank you, Port Washington, for supporting us.