It wasn’t long ago New Yorkers could confidently say they lived in the greatest state in the greatest country in the history of the world.
Sadly, times have changed.
Many New Yorkers have hit their breaking point and permanently fled; countless others are contemplating their exit from a state they once thought they would always call home.
People are struggling to make ends meet, combating mental-health challenges, concerned about their safety or desperate to improve the quality of their kids’ education.
This is especially true in many of the most underserved communities across New York.
If we as a society want to address top concerns, the first thing we need leaders to do is actually show up — and keep showing up over and over again.
Republicans haven’t been showing up to key places where they feel that no matter how hard they try, they will never earn the votes.
Democrats aren’t showing up to those same places under the assumption that even if they don’t show up, they’ll still get those votes.
As a result, underserved New Yorkers are being taken for granted and abandoned.
During my campaign for governor last year, we earned the support of longtime Democratic Party voters who prioritized solutions to issues that transcend blind party loyalty.
Asian Americans, Dominicans and Orthodox Jews were just some of the largely Democratic constituencies that broke ranks to back my candidacy.
Many New Yorkers feel like the state is heading in the wrong direction and are willing to work with anyone to turn it all around.
Being present is critical but only the first step.
In last year’s race, I proposed my “Pathways Up” plan for New York, with five pillars to tackle targeted needs in underserved communities: education, upward economic mobility, housing, mental-health and addiction challenges and safety.
With this vision and motivation, I just announced the launch of my 501(c)(3) charity, Zeldin Cares.
It will be dedicated to empowering and uplifting underserved communities by implementing wide-ranging strategies that will improve New Yorkers’ quality of life.
We don’t have to be in elected office to make the world around us a significantly better place.
With strong community outreach, a hardworking core team and a robust volunteer base, we have a great opportunity to take on key initiatives in areas that need them most.
We will also partner with charitable organizations across the state to boost veterans’ causes, homeless services and food pantries while working to improve public safety and environmental conservation, help break the cycle of multigenerational poverty and much more.
Amazing entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas lack the support and mentorship they need to follow through on their dreams.
That’s why Zeldin Cares is committed to helping develop entrepreneur incubation in less-affluent neighborhoods to create more economic opportunity.
Many outstanding organizations across the state, such as The Arcs in the capital region and Meals on Wheels, need more human capital and manpower to effect long-term change.
The Zeldin Cares volunteer army is mobilizing for deployments to help these organizations fulfill their noble missions.
New York’s homeless population is exposed to harsh winters and blistering temperatures.
Zeldin Cares will partner with an innovative New York-based apparel company to distribute a new jacket specially designed to help prevent cold-weather injuries.
These are just a few of the many important initiatives Zeldin Cares will undertake.
That is our mission.
I created Zeldin Cares to give concerned New Yorkers a vehicle to reverse the status quo in underserved communities desperate for change.
Our goals are large and small — all geared towards doing our part to save our state, show up and assist in communities where residents feel abandoned and, we hope, leave this world better than we found it.
We want to get to the point where New Yorkers once again confidently believe they live in the greatest state in the greatest country in the history of the world.
Lee Zeldin was the 2022 Republican nominee for governor.
This story originally appeared on NYPost