Rotary leads effort to replace Rescuing Families’ tools

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Gina and Vinny Centauro, co-founders of the Franklin Square-based charity Rescuing Families, which rebuilds houses for families in need, aren’t used to being on the receiving end of help. But on Aug. 5, the Central Nassau County Rotary Club, which is based in West Hempstead, delivered three boxes of tools donated by community members to Rescuing Families.

On the night of June 10, $25,000 worth of the charity’s power tools were stolen from a Hempstead home Rescuing Families was renovating. “It was a generation of tools,” Vinny Centauro previously told the Herald (“Rescuing Families holds charity yard sale amid devastating robbery in Hempstead,” June 17). “We’re contractors for 15 years . . . grandparents, dad’s tools; everything was totally wiped out. We lost everything.”

“We’re not used to being rescued,” Centauro said of the donation facilitated by the Rotarians. “The Rotary Club has always supported our cause.” Rescuing Families, he said, was grateful for the donation.

The club placed a collection box for tool donations at the West Hempstead Public Library last month. “The community always responds to people’s needs,” Rotary Co-President Bill Youngfert said. “They are sympathetic and supportive . . .”

“We thought it would be great to assist them in a time of need,” Youngfert added of Rescuing Families. He said he thought of the connection between the club and the charity as a “partnership,” and that Rotary’s goal is to boost local organizations like Rescuing Families, whose events it has supported in the past.

Gina Centauro previously told the Herald that people have been especially supportive since the robbery. “The people in the community are very generous,” she said, “but they’re even stepping up more than they previously have because of the hardship, and hearing that it affected us.”

Earlier this month, Rescuing Families completed and presented the latest house it renovated to the Helfenbein family of Hempstead (“Franklin Square-based nonprofit presents Hempstead family with new home,” August 12-18). The next family in line to benefit from the organization’s work is the Arcillas family, of Elmont.

Kelly Arcillas, 18, who was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis in September 2019 and has not been home since, has one wish, according to Rescuing Families: to spend Christmas with her family in their home. Kelly has lost almost all of her vision, is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a motorized wheelchair as well as a ventilator and a gastronomy tube.

“Being able to bring such joy and comfort to the families we help is such an incredible feeling for us and our team,” Rescuing Families wrote in an Aug. 5 Facebook post.

Eighty-five percent of the group’s funding comes from yard sales it holds. The next one, at 1010 Lewiston St. in Franklin Square, is set to finish up Aug. 27 and 28. Donations of funds and tools are also appreciated, the Centauros said. To schedule an appointment to donate funds or goods for the organization’s next yard sale, call (516) 697-9403, or go to https://www.rescuingfamilies.org/.

“Our charity is not a huge charity,” Vinny previously told the Herald. “The community is what drives us. We’re not getting funding from corporations; we’re getting funding from our neighbors.”

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