A Mensch

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We all have friends who are people we like, or they wouldn’t be our friends. But how many of us have friends who enrich our lives and make us proud of their acts of generosity and kindness? How many can we describe using the word “honorable” and who epitomize the spirit of Tzedakah or charity?

I have one and his name is Adam Haber.  Adam made money on Wall Street and unlike many, decided that the blessings he received came with a responsibility: to help others. So, one day in 2003 he read in the newspaper, as did many, about a Holocaust museum in Indiana called CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Experiments Survivors), which had been spray painted “remember Timothy McVeigh” and then torched. Unlike all the others who read the story, Adam immediately contacted the Holocaust survivor who founded the museum and then paid for the restoration.

On Labor Day 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore into Louisiana and Mississippi, killing thousands and destroying tens of thousands of homes and lives. All Hands Volunteers (www.hands.org), immediately deployed to Biloxi, Miss. to enable hundreds of volunteers around the country to clear debris, clean out homes, attack mold, and help the community in desperate need. Adam and I flew out just before Christmas. We spent three days sweating in Tyvek suits, lifting and sawing tree limbs, inside shells of homes decimated by Katrina, sanding down walls and washing them down with Clorox. But at night, while others were relaxing from the day’s work, Adam then went throughout the community and personally handed out gift cards, which he had bought. He handed out thousands of dollars worth to special cases so that they could have some Christmas gifts for their families and themselves. He then worked the phone and met with the local provider of propane and challenged that business owner to provide 1,000 units of propane for free if Adam bought 1,000 units. And that was how 2,000 families were able to have a hot meal that Christmas.

In 2008, Cedar Rapids, Ia. experienced the worst spring floods in almost a century. Thousands of homes were damaged and families displaced. Again, All Hands Volunteers deployed and again Adam traveled to help. This time, with his wife and children spending their last week of summer vacation before school started, mucking out homes, carting out debris and readying homes for construction.

In 2010, a great disaster befell Haiti when a magnitude 7 earthquake hit and over 220,000 people were killed and millions were impacted.  First, Adam provided his restaurant Aldea for one night for free, covering the thousands of dollars for costs of food and personnel, to enable successful $30,000 fundraiser for Haiti relief. Then, Adam traveled to the Haiti All Hands base in Leogone, where he lived in a tent for five days sweating under the Caribbean sun, helping rebuild homes, wheel barrowing out debris and building a schoolhouse.

Finally, on Oct. 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy barreled into Long Island. On October 31, Adam volunteered his AWD vehicle to take around the assessment person for All Hands to Long Beach to determine where All Hands Volunteers should deploy. He helped organize a clothing and food drive for Roslyn as well as the South Shore, personally arranging with a local moving company to generously donate a driver and truck and then he accompanied the goods and helped deliver all to the Rockaways.  Adam spent time in Freeport, learning their needs and helping arrange for the delivery of donated shoes and food. In those first weeks, he personally delivered toys and school supplies to the schools in Long Beach. On Christmas, he once again arranged for a truck and spent most of two days delivering electric heaters, which were donated by Sears, to impacted communities throughout the South Shore.  Of course, he opened Aldea again for a fundraiser to help those in need.

In May of this year, for Adam’s birthday, he celebrated by nailing up sheetrock at one home in Long Beach that All Hands was helping reconstruct, and then helping an elderly couple displaced by Sandy move around furniture. Earlier this year, Adam graciously accepted a position as a Director on the All Hands Board, despite all his other demands and commitments.

What most don’t realize is that when he ran for the school board of Roslyn, it was to help his community, which needed help after our Superintendent stole from us. He ran for County Supervisor because he could see the problems in Nassau that needed fixing. And now he is running for the New York Senate because he thinks he can help in both Nassau County and entire State of New York. He wants to help, just like he has throughout our country and our world, because it’s the right thing to do. Because he is an honorable man. A mensch.

— Eric Gebaide

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Joe Scotchie is the editor of both The Roslyn News and New Hyde Park Illustrated News. In 2009, he won a New York State Press Association award for a sports feature. Joseph Scotchie’s past publications include biographies of Thomas Wolfe and Richard Weaver and a comprehensive history of the city of Asheville, North Carolina.

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