Coney Island Church Damaged By Sandy Keeps Hope Afloat
A Coney Island church that answered the call after Hurricane Sandy is still running on generators, still providing help to the surrounding community as it continues to recover from the storm. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
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Her name is Pastor Constance SanFilippo-Hulla. But to her parishioners at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly she's just Pastor Connie. On Thursday, she showed NY1 the church basement, wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.
"When I came in the next day to find the whole community was totally under water, it was like an unimaginable nightmare," SanFilippo-Hulla said.
Pastor Connie estimates there was some one and a half million dollars in damage. Thankfully the sanctuary was spared, allowing pastor Connie and the church her father founded 55 years ago to immediately start helping its neighbors despite its own damages.
"People needed toilet paper, they needed medicine, they needed food," SanFilippo-Hulla said.
The church continues to be a distribution point for supplies of all kinds, and a donated trailer provides medical services three days a week.
"Screenings for hypertension, high blood pressure obviously, diabetes, assessing whether or not they need to seek out another primary care physician, if they have any medicine that needs to be refilled," said Patricia Caridad of the New York State Nurses Association.
So the church remains a beacon for the community. Parishioner Sharon Lundy's home was damaged but she continues to volunteer to help neighbors in similar situations.
"This church opens wide its doors, always, whenever there's anything needed in Coney Island they know they can come to Coney Island Gospel Assembly," Lundy said.
Volunteers like Zoya Chorbe say the people she has met at the church have become her new family.
"I found out when you help others, you forgot about your problems," Chorbe said.
That's why long time church members stress how important it is to get the church back to pre-sandy condition.
"Unless we get the financial assistance, we really can't get it back to where it needs to be in order to be the church that god has called us to be," said Assistant Pastor Savone James.
If you want to volunteer or help out financially, you can call the church at 718-996-9301.