NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island-based charity that helps families in desperate need of home repairs is now in need, itself.
Its fundraising ability was wiped out several weeks ago during the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.
“I watched one tent collapse, the other tent collapse. It’s just upsetting and I’m sorry,” Gina Centauro said.
The snow from Nov. 15 is long gone, but the tears linger. The storm damaged tents and housing donations, a severe setback for the founders of Rescuing Families.
Racks of clothing were soaked. Housewares were shattered. Half the charity’s inventory was wiped out.
Large yard sales fund the grassroots charity. Gina Centauro and her husband, Vinny, both licensed carpenters, launched the non-profit last year, together with Gina’s brother. They rebuild homes of the disabled and disadvantaged. They were inspired by their own fathers, disabled veterans, and a deaf, autistic sister.
“We have the skills to do it as contractors, but we can do so much more in our communities,” Vinny Centauro said.
“We are not rich people and we understand their plight,” Gina added.
A plight they witnessed as contractors fixing homes in desperate need.
“The floors buckling or a contractor had come and ripped them off and the windows were leaking, causing mold,” Gina Centauro said.
“I’m not big on armchair activism. Get out and make a difference,” Rescuing Families co-founder Michael Cantone said.
Their first full-house overhaul, in Wyandanch, featured no heat or working plumbing. They volunteered for a year, transforming the house and the lives of a family in need.
“They absolutely gave me a reset button, to press the reset button to feel like a human being in a house where you have a couch, where you have a working kitchen,” renovation recipient John Tribble said.
“It’s unbelievable what they do and how they help families. It’s just heart warming,” volunteer Jane Dietlein added.
Volunteers call them angels, but they now need their own rescue. The immediate need is money for — or donations of — storage pods to protect donations through the winter.
Their hope is to begin their next renovation in January, with 15 projects slated in 2019.
Applications for free home renovations are carefully vetted. You can find more information about Rescuing Families, by clicking here.