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Forest Hills activist gives back to FDNY EMS workers in Queens
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
First responders at three FDNY EMS stations
Elmhurst Hospital health care worker helps feed colleagues with donations
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
On his day off , Dr. Erfanul Saker delivered
a meal from a Taiwanese restaurant
to his colleagues at Elmhurst Hospital
Center who have been working tirelessly
treating coronavirus patients.
“We had an abundance of food and I did
not want it to go to waste, so I came to the
hospital and helped distribute the food
elsewhere,” said Saker, who is a third-year
internal medicine resident at the hospital.
Saker has been able to buy meals for
himself and the health care professionals
through generous donations from friends,
family and the community. While Saker’s
donation funds were dwindling, his
friends — Anthony Davis, Raul Abreu,
Chris Edwards, Ricardo Ospino and Dane
Wright — created a GoFundMe food
account on April 4 on behalf of Saker
to provide hospital staff with breakfast,
lunch and dinner.
“I’m the luckiest person ever given the
amount of support from my friends and
family. My friends have been through it
with me all from undergraduate to medical
school to residency. Th rough all of my
darkest moments they have been there to
pick me up, especially during a time like
this where they just went out and said,
‘Hey we got you.’”
To date, they have received $9,300,
nearly all of their $10,000 goal.
“I feel really good that a lot of people
responded to it by putting in donations,”
Davis said. “I just wanted to give them one
less thing to worry about, since they have
so much on their shoulders already. Th ey
shouldn’t have to worry about where the
next meal is coming from, or worry about
having to pay for a meal.”
According to Saker, the food was being
delivered to the residents at the hospital,
but now it’s shared with nurses in the pediatric
unit and staff in the intensive care
unit. “We’re trying to make sure everyone
is fed and taken care of,” Saker said.
Local restaurants have also been reaching
out to make deliveries to the hospital.
“Fresh Direct has sent us a food package
and some of our favorite spots that
we ordered from before the COVID-19
pandemic have called us as well to deliver
food,” Saker said. “Everyone is very
Like Saker, many of the nurses, doctors
and residents would return to the hospital
on their day off to help their fellow
“I always tell my friends that this feels
like war. I’ve never actually been in a war
and during a time war, people get draft -
ed and enlisted … sometimes you don’t
have a choice,” Saker said. “Th is is our
career — we choose to be doctors, physicians,
nurses, and this is really our calling.
Th e world is scared and am scared for
myself and my colleagues, but every single
day I wake up and can’t wait to go to
work because I know that’s where I can be
the most benefi cial.”
in Queens received a sweet treat on
Easter in appreciation for their heroism
and bravery working to protect and save
lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
FDNY EMS Station 45 in Woodside,
FDNY EMS Station 46 in Elmhurst and
FDNY EMS Station 47 in Far Rockaway each
received three large tubs of ice cream with
cups, spoons and other items. Th e initiative
was spearheaded by Edwin Wong, president
of the Forest Hills Asian Association, in
partnership with Th e Original Chinatown
Ice Cream Factory and the FDNY Phoenix
Society, which represents FDNY and EMS
Members of the FDNY Phoenix society
(r.) pick up ice cream donated by Edwin
Wong the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
(Courtesy of Th e Chinatown Ice Cream
Factory) Growing up in a Catholic household,
Wong remembers attending Easter
mass with his mother, Winnie Wong, and
father, Th omas Wong — who both recently
died of illness unrelated to the coronavirus.
Th is year, Wong decided to turn his grief
into giving to encourage charitable actions.
“Anyone who works on Easter Sunday
deserves a treat. Th is was an opportunity
for me to give back to our FDNY EMS fi rst
responders, and to support a Chinatown
small business which has seen its business
decline,” Wong said. “Th is also highlights
Asian-American fi rst responders and their
selfl essness and heroism amid the increase
in attacks and harassment against Asian-
Additionally, Wong is encouraging anyone
to donate to the EMS FDNY Help
Fund and to support equal pay for EMS
workers, in memory of his father.
“No one really mentions the EMS workers,
only the fi refi ghters,” Wong said. “Th ese
are the folks that are also on the front lines
right now answering the phones and working
to save lives.” According to Wong,
FDNY EMS Station 45 and FDNY EMS
Station 46 are the closest stations near his
parents’ home in Maspeth, where they lived
for 50 years and raised their three sons.
Th e FDNY EMS workers have also cared
for his parents when they fell ill.
“Th ey resuscitated my dad when he
stopped breathing, and took great care
when they transported him to the hospital,”
Wong said. “Th ey had also previously
taken great care of my mom when she had
to be transported to the hospital, aft er she
had fainted and another time when she was
complaining about chest pains and they
came to check on her.”
Looking forward, Wong says he is planning
to send ice cream treats to the three
FDNY EMS stations every year on Easter.
He will also continue to inspire others to
make monetary donations.
Christina Seid, owner of Th e Original
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, said they
were honored to have been able to partner
with the FDNY Phoenix society and the
Wong Family on the Easter collaboration.
“Right now the world seems turned
upside down and things are so uncertain,”
Seid said. “Ice cream is one of the few
things that remain the same — it brings
happiness in the good times and in bad.
Th e FDNY EMS are on the front lines,
away from their families to help keep our
families safe. Mr. and Mrs. Wong would
be proud of their sons for carrying on their
tradition of love and giving during this diffi
Photo courtesy of Erfanul Saker
FDNY EMS Station 45 in Woodside received three large tubs of ice
cream from The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Easter.
Courtesy of The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Members of the FDNY Phoenix society (r.) pick up ice cream donated by Edwin
Wong the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.