The Hempstead Community Day, organized by Helping End Violence Now, or H.E.V.N. -- a coalition of faith-based ministries, law enforcement and community agencies that works to stem gang and youth violence -- pressed forward Saturday for its 11th year at Mirschel Park.
"A lot of people backed out today because of the weather, but regardless . . . this community needs to be reached out to," said Apostle J. Raymond Megalos Mackey I, executive director of H.E.V.N. and pastor of Tabernacle of Joy Church in Uniondale.
H.E.V.N. promotes ending violence through an anger removal workshop in Nassau County jail, a manhood program at Roosevelt High School and mentoring program for mature men to work with young men, he said.
More than 20 volunteers on Saturday set up tables for local organizations to share their services and a loudspeaker to play gospel music for the event, which was a collaboration with the Village of Hempstead and Duffy & Duffy PLLC, a Uniondale law firm.
A youth basketball tournament was canceled due to the inclement weather.
But, as in past years, free hot dogs and hamburgers were grilled and doled out. Crowds typically swelled to about 300 people in previous years, Mackey said, but by 2 p.m. few had trickled in. Mackey asked volunteers to tell people on nearby Terrace Avenue about the gathering. He said he hoped people took away "a greater sense of value and worth of their lives, no matter what their present circumstances may be."
That was echoed by Options for Community Living, a Smithtown-based nonprofit that provides housing and support services for people recovering from mental illness and those living with chronic health conditions. Since few know about services that can help, the group wanted to take advantage of "any opportunity to spread the word -- rain or shine," program supervisor Yuvie Figueroa said.