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Going Above And Beyond: Sandy Volunteer Opens Her Home To Displaced Family

Lenny Callas Says Her Life Is Now 'Hectic,' But Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way
Lenny Callas, a Hurricane Sandy volunteer, opened her home to a mother and her children after they were displaced by the storm. (Photo: CBS 2)

Lenny Callas, a Hurricane Sandy volunteer, opened her home to a mother and her children after they were displaced by the storm. (Photo: CBS 2)

Superstorm Sandy

FAR ROCKAWAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has been a month since Superstorm Sandy and thousands of New Yorkers continue to make their living arrangements almost day-to-day.  Some are staying with family; others with friends.

But as CBS 2’s Lou Young reported Thursday, a few have moved in with people who started out as strangers.

It’s a tight fit in the Callas home these days: two families sharing the same space. People from Astoria made room for victims of the storm — a displaced mother and her two children.

“It’s really hectic. It’s four children, two women, one husband. It’s busy. It’s food. It’s transportation. It’s twice the work one family would be,” Lenny Callas said.

But it’s an imperative since Callas visited Kizzie Parker’s dark, damp, moldy apartment as a volunteer in the Far Rockaway flood zone. At first, Parker said she resisted the idea but gave in three days ago as it got colder and colder inside.

“I struggled all my life and worked hard to get the things I have. It’s hard,” Parker said.

This arrangement wasn’t anyone’s first choice. Callas has been working with four agencies trying to get the family help – the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NYC, Red Cross, and Catholic Charities, but it’s taking time, time the family doesn’t have.

“This is a single mother, she’s wonderful. Her children are amazing and she was living in the dark,” Callas said, adding when Young said it’s one thing to volunteer and another to open up your home, “Yes, but if you can you should. At least I do.”

“When I got here they made me feel so comfortable. They made me feel like we were family and that’s how I been feeling ever since I been here,” Parker added.

But it isn’t easy. Kizziah Rowe, Parker’s 14-year-old daughter, has had to change schools.

“I feel OK here. It’s nice. They’re nice to us,” Rowe said.

Parker said she doesn’t expect to stay in Astoria. She hopes to relocate somewhere in Queens, and is pretty sure she’s never going back to her real home.

Callas said she expects Parker and her children will be with her for several more weeks. She described her commitment, though, as “open-ended.”

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