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Bay Ridge group holds annual community pancake breakfast

Pancakes were flying off the griddle at the annual Bay Ridge Cares community pancake breakfast on Sat., Feb. 9 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church at 8401 Ridge Blvd.

Bay Ridge felt like a small town as neighbors packed the church basement for a good, old-fashioned community breakfast.

Bay Ridge Cares was formed by City Councilmember Justin Brannan and a group of his friends in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. They joined together to prepare and deliver hot meals to homeowners and recovery workers in neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, ultimately delivering over 26,000 meals in the months following Sandy.

The group has since raised funds for various charitable endeavors including assisting families of children with cancer to help pay for treatments.

A highlight of the event was when Brannan presented the organization with donation. “For those of you that don’t know, I am a vegetarian so I don’t eat bacon but I do try to bring home the bacon for the district,” Brannan said. “So I have a $5,000 check today to present to Bay Ridge Cares so they can keep doing the great work that they do.”

Attending the breakfast was a who’s who of elected officials and community leaders including U.S. Rep. Max Rose, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis and Mathylde Frontus, and former Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

“This is something that Bay Ridge Cares has come up with as a way of bringing the community together,” Gentile told this paper. “It really is a product of the small-town feeling in a big city and that’s what the pancake breakfast is all about. To really engender that feeling of a small town Bay Ridge. So, we’ve sold out today and that’s a good sign that a lot of people agree with us that they want to continue to build on that spirit.”

The breakfast was provided by the owners of Tom’s Restaurant and included pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee and juice. Volunteers from Fort Hamilton High School helped serve the breakfast and hand out coloring books to all the small children in attendance.

Rose introduced himself as “both your congressman and Justin Brannan’s assistant.” He thanked everyone for all the good they were doing. “This movement that you all have built here, this effort to help those who are most in need inspires me,” Rose said.

“I’ve just got back from Washington, D.C. last night and it is utterly broken,” he went on. “They’re spending all their time trying to figure out how we can build a wall on the southern border and not how we can actually put food on the table for those most in need . . . You all give me hope that we can do so much better.”

Gounardes was introduced as a founding member of Bay Ridge Cares. “There’s so much ugliness in the world; there’s so much division, discord and disunity and somehow we forget that we are all neighbors,” Gounardes said.

“We all walk on the same streets and we all send our kids to the same schools, shop in the same stores,’ he continued. “We all breathe the same air; we all bleed the same blood. This is what it’s about; it’s about community. It’s about coming together, forgetting everything else, and being able to talk to each other like human beings.”

Frontus received the loudest applause when she said, “Let me be clear, I live in Coney Island but my heart is right here in Bay Ridge. This is my second home and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She thanked the entire membership of Bay Ridge Cares for all their hard work.

“What really brings me joy this morning is to know that we have organizations just like Bay Ridge Cares who are standing as the rock of this community to bring us together,” she added.

Malliotakis thanked everyone for coming out to support what she called a great organization because of all the charitable work it does. “This is a great way to celebrate the Bay Ridge community,” she added.

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