Brooklyn charities raised millions for Sandy relief

January 7, 2013 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Brooklyn charitable organizations’ response to Hurricane Sandy, made in response to a survey sent out by the state Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, were made public Friday by the state Attorney General’s Office.

The 88 charities that have responded to the survey reported raising approximately $400 million for Hurricane Sandy relief.  Here is a spotlight on five charities that are either based in Brooklyn or especially active in the borough:

 The Brooklyn Recovery Fund, started after the storm by the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Borough President Marty Markowitz’ Office, received $1,531,031 in donations in dollars and pledges through Dec. 7, according to its president, Marilyn Gelber.

She added that “100 percent of the Brooklyn Recovery Fund will be used in support of relief and recovery efforts in Brooklyn communities most affected by Storm Sandy.”

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The fund helps local nonprofit agencies, rather than giving aid to individuals. As of Dec. 7, it had awarded $608,650 in grants to 43 nonprofit organizations. It also helps coordinate volunteer efforts through its volunteer website

Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens has received $549,184.97 in “unrestricted Sandy Relief” funds and $175,000 in “restricted Sandy Relief” funds, according to Robert Siebel, its CEO. Unrestricted funds are used in whatever way the organization wishes, while restricted funds are used in accordance with a specific request from a donor or a grants-maker.

At the time the survey was sent out, the agency had spent approximately $45,000. It also provided more than $220,000 in in-kind support, meaning that reallocation of existing staff and resources to Sandy relief.

Its assistance sites were located in Red Hook, Coney Island, Belle Harbor and Far Rockaway. The agency also, by arrangement with the city, provided case management services in Gravesend, Coney Island and Breezy Point.

The Metropolitan Jewish Health System Foundation, located in southern Brooklyn, received $31,000 in contributions from individuals and business at the time it returned the survey. It will also be making its own grant of up to $250,000. These funds will be used solely for Hurricane Sandy Relief.

As of the time it returned the survey, it had spent $130,000 on Sandy relief. It provided $1,000 each in assistance to employees whose cars were destroyed or swept away at its Manhattan Beach or Coney Island home care facilities.

It also gave grants of between $500 and $5,0000 to employees whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged. In addition, it continued its services to patients.

Occupy Sandy received $725,319 in donations and pledges as of Dec. 21, according to Elaine Spivak Rodriguez, one of its coordinators. As of that time, it had spent $112,376 on hurricane relief.

Most of this funding had been spent on direct services, such as mold remediation, food, water, rebuilding, legal clinics and so forth. Occupy Sandy is active in Red Hook and Coney Island in Brooklyn, as well as several areas of Staten Island and Queens.

Occupy Sandy has also given several grants to local organizations, including $3,988 to Brooklyn’s Church or St. Luke and St. Matthew. It considers hurricane relief work to be a long-term project.

Red Hook Initiative is a local group helping victims in one of Brooklyn’s hardest-hit areas.

As of the time it returned the survey, it had raised $840,000. It had spent $215,000. It has helped Red Hook Houses residents, private homeowners and small businesses impacted by the storm. In its headquarters facility, it provided space as a warming center and a computer-charging location for people without heat or electricity, provided up to 1,200 hot meals per day and hosted medical and legal clinics.

Red Hook Initiative also coordinated the delivery of meals to 250 homebound clients, mobilized more than 3,500 volunteers to help homeowners, business owners and public housing residents, and helped residents fill out FEMA and other claims forms.

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