HOMECREST – Amber Adler, 36, has always given back to the community. The more you scroll down her Facebook feed, the various photos and posts you will see of her distributing meals, volunteering and talking to neighbors about what they need help with long before COVID-19.
Adler is not hard to spot. A single mom of two kids; ages six and eight, she brings her boys everywhere with her. She has brought them to community board meetings that have lasted long into the night. She has brought them to voting booths. And she has brought them to rallies against anti-Semitism and hate crimes against Asian-Americans, which is where we first met her. Her kids, chanting along, were holding posters that said, “Stop the Hate” and “We Need Unity Now.”
Now, during a pandemic, instead of quarantining with her children at home, she is out and about, giving away masks to senior citizens, partnering up with organizations to distribute hot meals, her kids by her side.
“I take every precaution to protect my family’s health while we are out serving the community during this pandemic. I am aware that it is such a blessing to be healthy and able-bodied,” she told Bklyner. “I want to use these blessings for good and to give back. People’s needs are time-sensitive and I have experienced my own hardships in life, so I know this very well. People can’t wait for a meal and they can’t wait for vital necessities – they need them now. So, we help.”
Most recently, Adler sponsored and distributed 1,000 masks in Southern Brooklyn. She also gave out 100’s of masks to those working in the 60th and 61st Precincts. She teamed up with Bravo Kosher Pizza to provide dinner for essential workers. She partnered up with Staples and secured bags filled with school supplies and hand sanitizers for one hundred local school-age children in need.
Her passion and her work do not discriminate.
“Unity and community go hand in hand,” she said. “Partnerships like ours connect the dots between neighborhoods, create cultural understanding, and show others how to get involved in the community.”
During her time out during the pandemic, Adler has noticed many things. The city is different, she said. Parents are concerned about their kids’ mental health. People need guidance. And neighbors are lost.
“Mental health and how to deal with children that are emotionally breaking down is brought up to me a lot. Parents need guidance on how to protect their kid’s mental health,” she said. “People talk to me about their anxiety. So many people just need a break.”
“Many people are coping with job loss and trying to figure out how they will stay in their homes. Many people are working hard to meet the needs of the community. More food resources are needed. Kosher and Halal foods are in demand,” Adler continued. “I have seen people bonding over unemployment system troubles and, trying to help each other find more resources to get by.”
Adler believes there needs to be a higher level of continuity of information that is given out., especially to the many non-English speaking neighbors and seniors, who are left “even more vulnerable, as they try to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.”
She also noted that people don’t know how to properly wear a face mask. She recalled a time when an older woman told her she could barely breathe in her mask. It turned out, the mask was upside down. Adler helped her fix it. And she did it knowing her kids were watching.
“I want my children to be good humans. I want them to love every single person and I want them to always know that they can positively change the world. In life, many people want to help but they don’t know how to,” she said. “I feel that if my children are regularly participating in volunteering and advocating for causes that benefit the community, they will always know how to help.”
She recalled another time where she realized her sons cared deeply about their community. In early 2019, the race for the next Public Advocate was underway. Adler decided she wanted to volunteer to help a candidate. But first, she wanted to know more about the candidates before choosing which one to support. Then-Council Member Jumaane Williams was holding a town hall. And of course, Adler took her kids along.
While Williams was speaking, her eldest son Shmuel — who Adler noted is named after two family members that survived the Holocaust– nudged his mother. When Adler asked him what was wrong, he said he wanted to ask the candidate what he was going to do to stop hate crimes. At that time, there was a spike in anti-Semitic crimes. Once he got his mom’s permission, he asked. And he continued to ask the same question to various candidates whenever he saw them.
“The room was surprised by such a young boy’s interest. I was proud. I was so proud because he wanted to help others and prevent them from suffering,” Adler said. “And, he was doing his due diligence to support a candidate that would help others.”
When Adler is not out helping others, she is at home cuddled with her kids. She has realized that her children need extra attention right now, and so she makes sure to give it to them. They spend their time baking together, playing Mancala, and have family movie nights. Her kids even got her to join them in playing Minecraft.
“Life is about human connection. I see that every time I help people in need. I watch them light up and I am reminded that love and compassion are remedies that work and we still have hope,” she said. “It’s important to give back because life is about human connection and how you treat others. I want to care for my community because my community is my extended family. It’s helped me and I am here to help it.”