At many moments during last night's fundraiser for ReStore Red Hook, I was struck by how powerful it is to simply hear someone tell you a story.
It's one thing to read about the damage to Red Hook businesses, the flooded basements and ruined equipement. But when we heard Monica Byrne and Leisah Swensen recount the day the waters rose in Red Hook--the two of them playing Scrabble and drinking wine, until they spotted the water a few blocks from their home and work, which in a matter of seconds made it to their doorstep, so they climbed back upstairs to their apartment and sat it out while their downstairs restaurant, Home/Made, flooded and their furniture started floating--hearing this was way more immediate than any news account, because it was just two women with a mic, telling us a personal story that was actually pretty funny. Looking out the window into the waterlogged yard, they realized their neighbors' chickens were outside, so they made a mad dash to resuce them, wading through chest-high water to reach the coop, bobbing like a buoy, and holding the birds over their heads as they climbed back into their apartment, where they lived with the chickens, indoors, for days.
The most powerful moment of the story came later. Home/Made suffered a fire earlier this year, causing thousands of dollars of damage. Immediately the Red Hook community rallied together and quickly raised enough money for the women to replace what was lost. So when other businesses owners looked completely defeated by Sandy, unable to imagine that they could ever start from scratch again, after they'd already poured their entire savings and hearts in--Monica and Leisah reassured everyone with a big, fist-pumping, Yes We Can.
It was pretty inspiring. And while we raised some money for ReStore Red Hook last night--just over $1000--we would love to raise a ton more. They are trying to reach $2 million to cover the damage to businesses we all love--Sunny's, The Good Fork, Fort Defiance, Tiburon, Home/Made, Mile End, Red Hook Winery, Steve's Key Lime Pies, just to name a few of the 31 shops, restaurants, bodegas, and bars that lost all their wine, equipment, inventory, furniture and food. FEMA doesn't help small businesses. But we can!
Just take a second and donate $3 for a chance to win one of these dinners or lunches out. 100% goes to ReStore Red Hook. We'll announce winners on Monday at 5pm.
Update! Congrats to our winners: Kathleen Comeau, Melanie Campbell, Rachel Mandel, Bryony Weiss, Jennie Gustafson, and Grace Freedmans! We raised roughly $1500 together for ReStore Red Hook. They can use a lot more, so please consider giving them a gift this holiday season.