Together We Can! Together We Did — in Rockaway!

Posted: 6.02.15
Category: In The Community

Once again our hearts are full from another wonderful experience in Rockaway, New Jersey last weekend. After the amazing experience we had last year, we promised we’d go back to help another family, and on May 16th, we did.

Just to refresh your memory…when was the last time that you heard anything about Hurricane Sandy on the news? It’s been a year or two, hasn’t it? For some people the storm is still very much a day-to-day reality. Meet Eric and Aracelis Cabrera and their ten-year-old son, Jeremy. Residents of Rockaway for over 10 years, their lives were drastically changed on October 29th, 2012 when Hurricane Sandy made landfall and inundated their home with seven feet of water. They retreated to the refuge of their attic praying that the water would not climb any higher.

With daybreak and receding seawater came the stark reality and unveiling of the extensive damage left by Sandy and the family realized they would need to find alternate housing. The Cabreras located a temporary apartment in Brooklyn only for it to be burglarized, and most of the possessions they had left were stolen. To make things even tougher, Eric lost his job. To add the final insult to injury, when the Cabreras finally received their insurance money and hired a contractor, the contractor absconded with the funds leaving the family no way to repair and rebuild their home.

 

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Enough is enough, and that’s where AFR® Furniture Rental became involved in helping the Cabreras in collaboration with our good friends at St. Bernard’s Project and Friends of Rockaway. We started by donating the funds for lumber to help rebuild the Cabrera home. But that’s not all…

On Saturday, May 16th, AFR took a trip to Rockaway with over 30 staff members and their families who volunteered to help us. We wanted to assist with recovery efforts not just for the Cabreras, but for the 100+ families still misplaced by Hurricane Sandy.

 

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On arrival, our group was split into four teams and three teams were taken to other homes chosen by Friends of Rockaway, all of which were in various stages of reconstruction. Team members worked at spackling, finishing drywall, sanding and painting — we lent a helping hand wherever we could.

Meanwhile, the team at the Cabrera home was supplying the finishing touches and filling the home with bedroom furnishings, a dining room set, living room set, soft goods, accessories, and more so that the Cabreras could at last move home and finally get back to their normal life.

At the end of the workday, all the teams reconvened at the Cabrera residence to help celebrate and welcome the family for their homecoming. What a moment of joy and indescribable emotion as Eric, Aracelis, and Jeremy crossed the threshold after three years of unimaginable hardship and struggle.

 

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Walking around and seeing home for the first time, Aracelis said, “Wow! I feel like I’m in a hotel right now. It’s surreal.” Her son Jeremy added, “No mom, this is better than a hotel!”  

Mission accomplished! Click here for more pictures.

Moments like the one we just described are why we do what we do…to be a part in making a difference…to rally around those that need our help… and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

We believe that “Together We Can”…and this time, for the Cabreras, “Together We Did!” There will be more to come.

We will be going back to Rockaway again, and you are invited. We would love to have you join us. Please contact tschmitt@rentfurniture.com for more information on how you can get involved with AFR Gives Back projects!