Dozens of volunteers, including the owner of the popular Two Boots restaurant in Brooklyn, are joining forces in a Park Slope church to cook and deliver meals for residents in areas of the city still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
It is a busy kitchen at the Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, with volunteers fixing thousands of meals destined for areas hard hit by Sandy.
"There are still lots of places that have not electricity, they don't have their boilers yet, and we're still seeing a need for hot meals," said Andrew Wandzilak, the owner of the eatery Two Boots of Brooklyn.
Wandzilak started the Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen on November 1 in tents outside his Park Slope restaurant. Soon the operation grew and they moved it to the church. In almost two-and-a-half months, the group's made more than 100,000 meals.
"We expanded the cooking, Two Boots provided the leadership, we helped with the volunteers. So it's been this partnership of people coming to us and us saying 'OK, OK, OK, OK," said the Reverend Daniel Meeter, the pastor at Old First Reformed Church.
Volunteers have been key to the effort, which is based in a neighborhood that did not really feel a severe impact from the storm.
"Really they're just a group of people who wanted to help," said volunteer Jennifer Halpin.
"Once you're aware, you can't go back, and still 70 days later, I just can't stop," said volunteer Sara Angevine.
"If something happened to me, I would want everybody to be there for me, so why wouldn't I be there for everybody?" said volunteer Lyda Blank.
One of the volunteers, Jarad Astin, has been dealing with the loss of his home in the Rockaways while helping out.
"The people of New York really pulled together and tried to help each other as much as possible," said Astin.
The food from the church kitchen ends up at relief centers in communities hit by the storm, like Gerritsen Beach and Canarsie in Brooklyn, the Rockaway section of Queens and Staten Island.
Doreen Garson, the chief of Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department Chief, said people in her area are thankful.
"Just the friendliness that they've brought over to us and just that hometown feeling where the other side of Brooklyn takes care of us," Garson said.
NY1 reported in October how the Old First Reformed Church was fixing the roof of its sanctuary with community support.
Now that sanctuary is being used to store supplies for the volunteer cooks.
Volunteers meet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the kitchen of Old First Reformed Church on 729 Carroll Street on Thursdays and Fridays, and the church is holding a canned food drive. For more information, visit oldfirstbrooklyn.org and www.sandyreliefkitchen.com.