8 APRIL 15, 2021 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
Local artists host uplifting fundraiser for
families displaced by Jackson Heights fi re
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Community artists and residents gathered in
Travers Park on Saturday, April 10, for an afternoon
of dance, art and treats — all to benefi t
the hundreds of families who were displaced by a
massive fi re at a nearby apartment building.
Kaleidospace, a Queens-based arts collective,
hosted the event to fundraise for the GoFundMe
created on behalf of the 89-07 34th Ave. building’s
tenants association, 89th Street Tenants Unidos.
The funds will go toward the 240 families of the
six story, 133-unit apartment building who lost
their homes as a result of an eight-alarm fire that
broke out on Tuesday, April 6.
“We just really want to be able to supply everything
that we can with the love that we have
for our community by using art and our voices
to uplift the people that need it the most,” said
Kaleidospace founder Manuela Agudelo. “These
are essential workers. These are low-income communities
of color who are just like us, and they
deserve our love.”
Agudelo was one of the performers, captivating
the several dozen attendees with her Cumbia
dance as Maraca Bruja, a Colombian band, kicked
off the event with their Afro-Indigenous music.
Many of the artists and organizers at the event
have been on the ground collecting donations and
supplies for the families who were displaced by
Community activist Daniel Puerto, who created
the GoFundMe on behalf of the tenants association
and has organized additional relief efforts,
said that although they met their initial goal of
$250,000, “the need is higher.”
“To put it into context, there are more than 400
people who have been displaced,” Puerto said,
explaining that many units housed more than
one family. “$250,000 is not enough.”
He added that the tenants association will distribute
the funds among the families who were
placed in hotels, shelters and other homes across
the city. The families affected by the fire will have
to register with the Department of Housing Preservation
to receive housing services, including
hotel extensions past April 13.
Mark Saldana, an artist and organizer with
Kaleidospace, had family living in the building.
He said that luckily, his family members, including
one cousin who is disabled, were rushed out
of their apartment before anyone got hurt as a
result of the fire.
“There were a lot of people in there, and all of
them lost everything,” Saldana said, adding that
they lost some pets and important documents.
“But I’m so happy that my whole family is safe.”
The fire first broke out inside an apartment on
the building’s sixth floor on Tuesday afternoon,
Artists and vendors came together for a fundraiser hosted by Queens arts collective Kaleidospace
for the victims of the Jackson Height fi re. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
and later spread into a small section of the next
door building, according to the FDNY. It took 12
hours and more than 300 firefighters to bring the
fire under control.
Six residents and 64 firefighters were injured
by the flames, with most of the injuries reported
as non-life-threatening, according to the FDNY.
Fire marshals have not yet entered the building
to determine what caused the fire, but they say it
isn’t suspicious. According to the FDNY, there was
a delay in calling 911 and the door of the apartment
where the fire originated was left open, causing
the fire to spread to the hallway.
Almost immediately after the fire, many community
members in Jackson Heights organized
aid for the tenants.
Agudelo said Kaleidospace was able to raise
$1,000 in a day to give some of the families gift
cards. Saldana worked with the NYC Brown Berets
to collect and distribute clothing, and said he was
encouraged to see how neighbors quickly united
to help the families not only with donations, but
also to understand the information they were
given by the Red Cross.
“It’s been a rough, rough week,” Saldana said.
“I’m so glad the community just stuck together and
pulled through to help these families in the past
While Saturday’s event featured multiple dance
and artistic performances, it also had tables set up
with print and photography pieces made by local
artists on sale, including Eric Teran of City Prints
NYC and Jorge Pardo Denning of Sine Shooter.
Parva Bakeshop and Cafe, located at 8201 Northern
Blvd., donated pastries and teas, while Sulcet
Perez of Suceltlicious Sweets offered chocolate
bars and cake pops.
Perez, who also performed, commended Kaleidospace
for bringing the community together.
“We’re just here to help everybody and make
sure everybody has a home after this,” Perez
The Jackson Heights Community Fridge was also
there with a food drive to collect non-perishable
items for the fridge and the families. Organizers
Tahia Islam and Amy Pinilla talked about how
they’re all connected in their mutual aid efforts.
“The best way we could take part as the community
fridge is to make sure we’re a vessel to
collect food for them once they’re all settled and
also to keep it in the refrigerator for the rest of
our community,” Islam said.
Andrew Sokolof Diaz, co-president of 89th
Street Tenants Unidos, said they are “immensely
grateful” for Kaleidospace’s support and their use
of art as a way to heal.
“It means much more than just supporting
our families, this is for our families to rebuild,”
Sokolof Diaz said. “We’ve been decimated by this
at a very critical moment. It’s a crossroads because
these are immigrant people, these are essential
workers in our buildings, and now is the time to
see what the city does next for us. We’re grateful
that the community has had our backs.”
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