Message from the President

By Lloyd Williams, President and CEO, GHCC

At this extraordinary time in the history of America and, in fact, the entire world, our communities averted attention in the middle of “the pandemic within the pandemic.” America is being torn apart by the seemingly never-ending pandemics of institutional racism, police brutality, and the continued assassination of people of color, particularly black men in general, black men in particular.

As we mourn the deaths of tens of thousands of people of color across the nation due to COVID-19, we stop grieving for our family members and divert our pain and suffering to the other “pandemic within the pandemic.” Nonetheless, thanks and gratitude have always been the key to
our survival, so we thank the first responders, the new essentials, and the scientists and doctors who give us the necessary and most relevant facts.

We thank the elected officials who have worked directly with the Chamber and provided support, counsel, and leadership in the government circles: NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo; NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams;
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; US Congressmen Adriano Espaillat, Gregory Meeks and Hakim Jeffries; NY State Senators Brian Benjamin and Robert Jackson; NYS Assembly member Inez Dickens; and NY City Councilmembers Mark Levine and Ben Kallos.

And, where would Harlem be without the heroic, dedicated medical practitioners, nurses, doctors, and administrators at our public hospitals— Harlem Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital, Lincoln Hospital, and private hospitals such as Mt. Sinai, Columbia Medical and NY Presbyterian? Profound thanks to them for their continued service.

The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce has partnered with community-based organizations NAACP, National Action Network, Harlem Arts Alliance, HARLEM WEEK, One Hundred Black Men, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement and West Harlem Assistance Group. We have benefited significantly from the educational support, assistance, and expertise received from The City College of New York, Columbia University, and Touro College for Osteopathic Medicine.

With the encouragement of all of the above, our efforts to raise support resources through the Chamber’s “Support Harlem Now” GoFundMe initiative (Phase I – March, April, May) has been dramatically successful. Since the pandemic hit New York, we have fed hundreds of thousands of senior citizens, needy families, and homeless men, women, and families suffering from the ever-growing food desert in New York City. Our hunger relief partners led by Rethink Food NYC, West Harlem Assistance Group, Salem United Methodist Church, supported by contributions from Cabot Creamery, Hormel Foods, and New York Road Runners, with assistance from Greater Harlem Development Corporation. We have also provided thousands of PPE supplies and meals for first responders at hospitals and police precincts.

We thank every single person who supported and contributed to our efforts. Your ongoing support is necessary as we enter Phase II (June, July, August). Neither COVID-19 nor the challenges presented by racism, America’s original infection will end soon. There is much more to do. If we don’t support one another, we can not, nor should not expect anyone else to do so.

I respectfully close giving special recognition and thanks to the tireless daily efforts to combat the crises of the moment made by The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce team: Patricia Ricketts, Voza Rivers, Winston Majette, Clayton Banks, Marko Nobles, and Irene Gandy with strong support from Michele Scott, Temple-Jene Fleming, Melissa Skinner, Linda Walton, Donna Walker Kuhne, Dietrice Bolden, Valorie Williams