Masbia executive director Alexander Rapaport found himself in hot water recently after donors pulled support for the new Forest Hills site once they saw his support of Yemeni bodega owners protesting President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
The group also runs two sites in Flatbush and Boro Park, and he decided to support bodega owners whose businesses are under the D line in Boro Park by affixing Post-It notes with positive messages on a storefront.
“It was just a nice little gesture,” Rapaport said.
Later, Rapaport sent a letter to donors seeking funds for the new Forest Hills site as its Rego Park location is slated for demolition. A few donors refused to do so because of Rapaport’s personal actions.
“One person told me that since I am against Trump, they will not donate again,” he said. “I thought that it was totally uncalled for.”
Rapaport said that Masbia has a pool of 30,000 donors and volunteers, and it was only a handful that complained.
“What I do in my private time shouldn’t affect anybody,” Rapaport said. “It has nothing to do with Masbia or food, it was a personal thing and I’d do it all over again.
“We didn’t put it on any of our social media, and even if we did, it is still a basic, nice gesture to a neighbor and it doesn’t need to get so intense,” he added.
But Rapaport estimates that for every donor who pulled out, Masbia received 100 new ones from around the country. The organization is now halfway to its $250,000 goal.
While waiting to move to the new Forest Hills location, Masbia is serving hot meals from a food truck under the scaffolding of the old Rego Park location.
“We do need a lot of help with our renovation, it’s really sad when we have to cancel when it’s below freezing on Queens Boulevard,” Rapaport said. “The sooner that we can get into our new location, the better.”
Rapaport said he also supported the “Day Without Immigrants” strike on February 16.
“Despite the havoc it is creating on many people, it is important for people to show how much of an integral part of society they are,” Rapaport said.