Firefighters, despite their ever-heroic actions, were not spared during Sandy’s rage.
Many active and retired members of the FDNY lost their homes during the storm, and the Friends of Firefighters (FoF), a nonprofit group that offers wellness services for firefighters and their families, opened up an additional location in Glendale to care for those in need. But nearly four months after the storm, the group is still supplying families who lost everything with essential items.
“[Firefighters] are out there every day, putting their lives on the line for us,” said Meghan Zichelli, operations manager at FoF. “Most of them, their homes were affected by Sandy, so it makes our mission even more important; to help this community that’s out there helping us.”
When the storm hit, FoF’s base site in Brooklyn was severely damaged. The group needed an additional site to distribute donations to FDNY families in need.
Initially, they collected donations in a volunteer’s home, but with the mountainous influx of items, they quickly outgrew the space.
Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley contacted Macerich, the owners of the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale. Macerich donated the space previously occupied by Stein Mart to FoF, and volunteers are still there today.
“The families need even more assistance during this rough time,” said Zichelli. “To make the help convenient for them and easily accessible is very important.”
FoF has helped over 400 firefighters and their families since the storm, and will continue to do so. The same volunteers work the site, and Zichelli said that provides a sense of comfort and familiarity for the families who keep coming back for more.
“They’re still coming to get anything from baby diapers and formula, to bleach and cleaning supplies, to shovels and other tools,” she said.
The Glendale site is currently open every Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for both donation drop-offs and pick-ups. To learn more, call FoF at 718-643-1240 or visit friendsoffirefighters.org.