When Hurricane Sandy made landfall at Breezy Point, a close knit community in Queens, NY, lifelong resident Matt Petronis was heartsick. Away at college in Washington, DC, he watched as the television played back the devastation that was hitting his childhood home. He realized that all his friends and family were there. The places where he learned to walk, talk, ride a bike, drive a car and pitch baseball were being demolished by the rain, wind and fires.
Petronis swung into action to help his community. He set up a fund raiser online through WePay.com and managed to raise a few thousand dollars in just a few hours. Within a couple of days, he had more than $10,000. Then offers of non-monetary help began to pour in from all over. Accountants and lawyers offered to help him set up a non-profit organization. Contractors, carpenters and other volunteers offered to help with clean up and reconstruction. By Thanksgiving, Petronis had amassed more than $78,000.
What made his efforts so successful? Timing. Petronis was able to get his fund raiser up quickly and it benefitted from all the news coverage showing the devastation in Breezy Point. People wanted to reach out and help. Because his site was up and running, they had a place to turn to. All of the money raised will be used to help rebuild Breezy Point. People can apply for assistance through anonymous forms to protect their identity as everyone in Breezy Point knows everyone else.
The 19 year old certainly understands the importance of community and giving back.