For Immediate Release - February 01, 2010

GOVERNOR PATRICK SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER TO SUPPORT STATE WORKERS IMPACTED BY HAITI EARTHQUAKE

Establishes catastrophic leave donation program to assist employees

BOSTON - Monday, February 1, 2010 - As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's continued efforts to provide relief and resources to individuals impacted by the Haiti Earthquake, Governor Deval Patrick today announced the signing of Executive Order 520, which establishes a catastrophic leave donation program to support impacted employees in the state workforce.

The order will allow for state employees to donate earned vacation and personal leave time to co-workers who have relatives in Haiti and need time to care for family members or travel to the country. Under the supervision of the Human Resources Division (HRD), guidelines will be developed for employees wishing to donate.

"Many of the Commonwealth's employees and their families are personally affected by the tragedy in Haiti," said Governor Patrick. "We need to support them in every way we can right now."

"The Consulate General of Haiti in Boston supports and appreciates the Governor's Executive Order. Haitians living outside of Haiti have been severely affected by the earthquake; mourning the loss of loved ones while doing their best to support those who have survived. The Governor's Order will not only provide them with an opportunity to join their families but also provide them with opportunities for creating meaning, having closure and for some a chance to respond to the disaster and contribute to rebuilding the country," said Haiti's Consul General to Boston Emmanuelle Dupiton. "The Consulate General of Haiti in Boston thanks in advance the employees who will consider donating time to their colleagues. The solidarity and support of the Governor's office will not be forgotten."

"We recognize that Massachusetts has a uniquely vibrant Haitian community that has been severely affected by this earthquake," said Richard Chacón, executive director of the Office for Refugees and Immigrants, who is coordinating the state's response efforts. "The outpouring of support we have seen from all sectors of the Commonwealth has been enormous and a confirmation that we fully support our Haitian friends and neighbors."

"The tragic death of thousands and the destruction of Port-au Prince and surrounding towns in Haiti has desolated our Haitian community here. As our families continue to search for relatives and friends in Haiti or suffer the often devastating news of the loss of loved ones, this generous proposal offers our effected employees the opportunity to grieve, care for those returned injured or contribute their skills and expertise to the recovery efforts underway in Haiti. I applaud Governor Patrick's leadership on this issue," said Representative Marie St. Fleur.

"So many of my colleagues in state government have asked me how they can help during these difficult times. Governor Patrick's creation of a catastrophic leave donation program allows every state employee an opportunity to support their coworkers affected by this tragedy," said Representative Linda Dorcena Forry. "Recognizing that Massachusetts has the third largest Haitian population aside from Miami and New York, I am pleased that our state has been coordinating efforts on how we are going to support Haitians during this difficult time."

Immediately following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, Governor Patrick initiated a coordinated, swift and comprehensive statewide response to make assistance available for recovery efforts in Haiti and to support Haitian communities in Massachusetts.

Numerous state agencies were mobilized to identify all available personnel, equipment and supplies that can be provided for deployment to Haiti, and those resources are ready for any formal requests from the US government. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency remains in daily contact with several federal agencies leading rescue and recovery operations in Haiti.

Additionally, the Administration has provided mental health counselors through the Department of Mental Health (DMH) for individuals in need, as well as assistance for residents applying for Temporary Protective Status. The Commonwealth has provided updates on Haiti relief operations and information related to Temporary Protective Status for Haitians in English and in Haitian Creole through the Mass211 information telephone line and through the state's website at http://www.mass.gov/anf/employment-equal-access-disability/hr-policies/leave-program/haiti-earthquake-relief-efforts/

The Commonwealth has also coordinated closely with community-based organizations that serve Haitian families, as well as health care providers, mayoral and town offices that have large Haitian communities and with local clergy that provide pastoral care to Haitian congregants to alert them to additional resources such as counseling, donations and assistance with housing.

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