Chinatown merchants cheer Sandy fund relief checks

Photo by Sam Spokony
Photo by Sam Spokony

Chinatown small business owners happily waved their Superstorm Sandy relief checks last Friday, after a ceremony at the Transfiguration Church, on Mott St. The effort was spearheaded by the Chinatown Business Improvement District, the Chinatown Partnership and City Councilmember Margaret Chin (front row center, in glasses). The two-week fundraising push raised nearly $80,000 for businesses impacted by the devastating storm.

BID Chairperson David Louie (pictured behind Councilmember Chin) proudly proclaimed that the 79 small business owners — who each received grant checks of slightly more than $1,000 — were getting “every penny” of the money raised, since the fund had no administrative costs. He also touted the fact that, while most of the grant money came from within the Chinatown community, many donations also came from outside the neighborhood, including a $5,000 check from Utica First Insurance Company in Upstate New York.

Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, who is known for his colorful allusions and inspirational metaphors, likened the successful relief effort to a sentiment expressed in the most famous words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address.

“We have nothing to fear now,” said Chen (pictured at far right, in red jacket). “This may not be a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it is a symbol of solidarity, to show that we are all intertwined, and that together we will have a rising fortune, not a sinking one. Chinatown should be proud of this.”