When Hurricane Sandy hit in the fall of 2012, Long Island was among the areas most heavily impacted. Long Island Cares stepped in quickly to help. Initially, the nonprofit provided emergency food and cleaning supplies, household items and personal care products – close to seven million pounds – to local communities. But, the organization soon realized that more than food and supplies were needed to support people’s long-term recovery.
“We realized soon after things started to get back to normal that this was no longer about food,” said Executive Director Paule Pachter. “This was about people putting their homes back together and their lives back together.” That required another level of assistance. With support from partners like Bank of America, the nonprofit raised $1.2 million dollars in the four weeks after the storm and made grants to help families get back on their feet.
This represented a shift for the organization. When Pachter joined five years ago, the focus of Long Island Cares was on providing emergency food. Today, there’s an equally strong focus on providing direct services to the people receiving that food. “One of our goals is following the food to the people that need it to find out why,” said Pachter.
Support from committed partners has been critical to the organization’s success. The partnership between Bank of America and Long Island Cares dates back to 1997, when the bank became the sponsor of the nonprofit’s signature Check Out Hunger campaign. The bank has continually provided financial support for programs and operations, but the partnership goes both ways. Bank of America Market Manager Lorraine Aycock calls Pachter “an amazing partner when it comes to determining how we can be better involved and more proactive in certain issues affecting the community.” In 2006, Long Island Cares was the first local recipient of the bank’s Neighborhood Builder Award, which recognizes organizations committed to strengthening their communities.
With help from partners like Bank of America, Long Island Cares continues to innovate and grow. They recently developed the Kitchen Studio, a training kitchen for local food providers. There, they demonstrate for other charitable organizations how to make nutritious meals from items frequently found in pantries. They’re also teaching elementary school children and their parents to cook through a program called Kids United Against Hunger.
Long Island Cares recently hosted the 2nd Annual Concert for Children's Hunger Awareness with Tom Chapin, brother of late Long Island Cares founder, singer-songwriter and social activist Harry Chapin. “When Harry established Long Island Cares, it really wasn't the food that he was focusing on,” said Pachter. “Harry's issue was looking at people's self-sufficiency and getting them out of the cycle of poverty.” That same philosophy guides the work of Long Island Cares today.