A community-driven effort to match storm victims with needed resources was held at the Main Street Firehouse Saturday in East Rockaway, with more than three hundred residents coming to enjoy lunch, be in each other’s company, and listen to FEMA and Small Business Administration spokesmen address the crowd.
“Rock the Recovery” was a chance for East Rockaway and Bay Park neighbors to commiserate, as well as partake in a delicious hot luncheon prepared and served by members of the Long Island Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, who co-sponsored the event along with the East Rockaway Fire Department.
“We’ve had a lot of people pitch in,” said Michael Ty, the national president and founder of the ACF, “some as far as Kansas City. We want to help our fellow chefs in the Long Island chapter.” One of those chefs was Chris Neary, an East Rockaway resident who was featured in the Herald in September for his work with a volunteer outreach program in the Philippines. Neary, who got his start in the village’s East Point Inn, is the ACF’s Long Island Chapter president and executive chef with food distributor J. Kings,
“We’ve also been affected by the storm,” said ERFD Chief Steve Torborg to the crowd, “so we know what everyone is going through. We want you to know that you can call us any time.” Torborg gave credit to resident Elizabeth Daitz for being instrumental in organizing the event.
“The turnout was fantastic,” said Daitz. “If nothing else, [there is] the camaraderie of knowing that their neighbors are in similar situations, and that they can band together to get more information.” Daitz said another 250 pre-packaged meals were distributed to residents who were not able to attend.
Representatives from the East Rockaway Fire Department, The Education Foundation, the library, the school district, the village, The Coalition for Youth in East Rockaway and church leaders were also in attendance to answer questions. “They’re here to help you,” said Daitz said. “Ask them questions. Part of what we’re doing here today is to match up resources with the needs of the people in the community.”
FEMA and SBA, explained