Thursday, January 9, 2014

O’NEILL’S LENDS A HAND TO FRIENDS OF ROCKAWAY


January 9, 2014

The band Strange but Surf entertains the crowd at a fundraiser for Friends of Rockaway at O’Neill’s last Saturday night. Photo by Phil Corso

The owners of O’Neill’s bar and restaurant in Maspeth have always made a point to express their love for the greater Queens community – and their latest weekend shabang was no exception.
The famous neighborhood pub on 53rd Drive opened its doors Saturday night to a time far from anyone’s mind in the thick of January: Summer. A “Halfway-to-Summer” beach party was planned exactly six months from July 4 – but Danny Pyle, the watering well’s co-owner, joked it was only “an excuse” for the real cause.
All proceeds from the event went to benefit Friends of Rockaway, a nonprofit that helps residents still reeling from Superstorm Sandy to rebuild their homes decimated by the hurricane.
“We were looking to do something for the Friends of Rockaway and have a lot of fun while doing it,” he said. “This is what O’Neill’s is all about. We are very blessed here and want to do our best to help out.”
Pyle and the O’Neill’s team brought the classic summertime beer Corona Extra into the mix with representatives doling out swag to the sound of beach tunes provided by Strange But Surf, a band hailing from Long Island. All the while, Friends of Rockaway Director Todd Miner thanked patrons for being part of his cause.
“It’s amazing how much people still want to help after all this time,” Miner said, referring to the 15 months since Sandy ravaged the Rockaways. “This level of fundraising is keeping us afloat. You can’t quantify how much this helps us.”
Friends of Rockaway was launched in the days following the storm as an affiliate of the St. Bernard Project, which helped New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina in 2006. They have since worked with residents to make sure they rebuild in a way that is safe, secure and sustainable.
O’Neill’s management reached out to Miner with hopes his organization would agree to be the guests of honor last week. It was easy to say yes, Miner said, because he believes Sandy helped prove that Queens is a connected community geared towards helping those who need it.
The party came just weeks after O’Neill’s celebrated its 80th anniversary in Maspeth and rebirth after a devastating five-alarm fire tore through the pub in May 2011. Pyle said the reopening helped free up the management’s time to now focus on more community-oriented programming like Saturday’s beach bash.
Todd Miner, director of Friends of Rockaway, said he is constantly inspired by the people who want to continue to help those struggling after Superstorm Sandy.   Photo by Phil Corso
Todd Miner, director of Friends of Rockaway, said he is constantly inspired by the people who want to continue to help those struggling after Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Phil Corso
“We’re all bouncing back since the storm,” Pyle said. “The people of the Rockaways are always in our thoughts.”
Miner received some more help earlier this week when Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach) brought along his staff to work on home repairs with Rockaway homeowners. The assemblyman and his team worked together to prepare and install all the insulation on the first floor of the family’s home after it saw eight feet of water during the storm over 15 months ago.
“We will all continue to get our families back into safe, secure housing in a way that is predictable and efficient,” Miner said. “Friends of Rockaway will continue to work for the community until all our families are back in their houses.”

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