The strengths of Bay Ridge: Benefit concert held at Salty Dog to help four displaced families

Sunday, July 8, was a touching day for the four 81st Street families who were financially, psychologically and emotionally struck by the June 21 fire which left them without a place to live. The community proudly came together to support them with a fundraiser event at the Salty Dog, located on Third Avenue, near Bay Ridge Parkway.

“All of the families were overwhelmed by the support,” said Bob Howe, a Bay Ridge resident and an immediate victim of the fire.

“These are the strengths of Bay Ridge,” he said, referring to the Helping Hands Project, and the outstanding job the members did by putting together a fundraiser event only 17 days after the disaster.

The special benefit concert — which raised more than $10,000 — began at noon and ended at 9 p.m. Bands like the Atomic Dog, Rebelfish and Radio Daze played, and attendees paid $25 to experience the fun, with proceeds going directly to aid the multiple displaced families. The donations are to be divided amongst the Railey, Moore, Howe and Feeney families who according to Howe are “starting at zero.”

“When something tragic happens, and people are in need of help, Bay Ridge comes together and automatically does it,” Howe exclaimed.

“We have to start from scratch,” he explained. “These families were left out in the street, with nothing left but what they were wearing. To realize that the Helping Hands would provide immediate help to people who suffer a tragic financial and psychological shock,” Howe said, “they truly deserve all of the credit for the coordination. “

His family has rented a temporary house in the neighborhood and is looking forward to rebuilding its previous home.

“The bands were great,” Howe also said. “They’re an important fabric of Bay Ridge.”

Paul Cassone, executive director/CEO at the Guild for Exceptional Children, was inspired to see that the spirit of Bay Ridge is “still alive and well.” He was amongst the performers.

“We saw it three years ago, at the Sunnydale fire; we see it in instances with people with cancer,” he added, “it’s terrific to see a small town where people are willing to come out and support one another.”

Frankie Marra, who performed with his band, said that he also sensed an enormous amount of “support and generosity,” from the 600 people who were at the event. “It was very successful, to see the sort of community feel and outpour from the community.

“The families took away that the community really cares for them,” Marra noted. “And, that’s what really matters [besides the financial support given].”

The Helping Hands issued a statement thanking the community.

“On behalf of all the families, we want to thank everyone for their kind words, donations and prayers over these past few difficult weeks. The response on Sunday was truly overwhelming – friends new and old, family members, neighbors and perfect strangers all came together to help lift the spirits of the displaced families and once again Bay Ridge proved itself to be a community that comes together like no other,” they said.

The next fundraiser, a special presentation of “Trouble at the Tropicabana” by the Jeff Samaha Theater Productions/Ridge Chorale, will be on August 11 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, August 12 at 5 p.m. in addition to a musical revue featuring songs from “Smokey Joe’s Café” and “SHOUT! The Mod Musical.”

Both benefit performances will take place at St. Mary’s Church located at 192 81st Street.

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