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Red Cross Gives Grant to Friends of Rockaway for Sandy Recovery

Red Cross Gives Grant to Friends of Rockaway for Sandy Recovery.

Pictured L to R: Michael Sinensky, Friends of Rockaway founder; Felix Lyons and Josh Lockwood, American Red Cross Greater New York Region CEO.

It means that we’ll have a hot meal on the table again, and there’ll be hope in terms of getting a shelter back.

Watch video story here.

Donations to the American Red Cross are helping Felix Lyons prepare his home for an addition to the family. His wife, Lintia, is due to give birth to the couple’s fourth child on August 28.

But getting the Lyons home ready is more complicated than having a baby shower, buying a crib and decorating a room.

The family’s house in the Arverne neighborhood of Far Rockaway was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, and they lost almost all their belongings. The home’s drywall, ceilings and floors had to be removed, so for the past eight months, the Lyons’ have been living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment nearby.

A $721,550 grant from the Red Cross to a grassroots organization known as Friends of Rockaway will help Felix, his family, and almost 100 other families get back into their homes.

“There’s hope for us, and the kids will be happy of course,” Lyons said. “It means that we’ll have a hot meal on the table again, and there’ll be hope in terms of getting a shelter back.”

Friends of Rockaway, an affiliate of St. Bernard’s Project, will use the Red Cross grant to hire local, skilled labor — plumbers, electricians, carpenters and handy men — for a year to help rebuild 90 homes in the Rockaway Peninsula. The grant will allow low to moderately-low income homeowners in hard-hit areas to restore their homes to livable conditions.

"We're excited to be working with the American Red Cross to rebuild our community,” said Michael Sinensky, Friends of Rockaway founder. “It is further proof of the Red Cross commitment to not only relief efforts, but rebuilding and resiliency. The Rockaways are forever grateful for their generosity and hard work."

“Superstorm Sandy struck our region with unprecedented levels of damage and community-based

organizations such as Friends of Rockaway are vital in helping with on-the-ground recovery, helping people recover and rebuild their lives,” said Josh Lockwood, Red Cross Greater New York Region CEO.

“The Red Cross partnership with Friends of Rockaway will enable many families in the Rockaway Peninsula who couldn’t otherwise afford to rebuild their homes to do so,” Lockwood said.

Donations to the Red Cross after Superstorm Sandy have led to clear signs of progress and hope through New York and New Jersey seven months after the storm. As of June 2013, the Red Cross has partnered with numerous organizations to support the recovery of individuals and families affected by Sandy, including Brooklyn Community Foundation, City Harvest, Feeding America, Food Bank For New York City, Friends of Rockaway, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Island Harvest, National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, Operation Hope, Points of Light Foundation and Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

For Lyons, the partnership between the Red Cross and Friends of Rockaway means he will have a new place to bring his newborn.

“We are hoping that in two or three months we’ll be back in the home, and we can get things going again.”

For more information about Friends of Rockaway, visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

About Friends of Rockaway:

The mission of Friends of Rockaway, an affiliate of St. Bernard’s Project, is to restore the community of Rockaway, Queens after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and build back the spirit of both the neighborhood and the residents stronger than ever before. Founded by Rockaway natives Michael Sinensky, Evan Abel, Chris Miles, Etan Fraiman, Joe Fraiman, Jordon Brown, Danny Brown and Melissa Sorger, Friends of Rockaway has helped neighbors with debris removal, residential gutting and mucking out, mold assessments and remediation, and the rebuilding of homes impacted by the hurricane through donations and grants. For more information please visit