It is not unusual for the Mineola Junior Fire Department to sponsor a pancake breakfast as a fundraiser. But the pancake breakfast held on October 18 at the firehouse on Washington Avenue was not your typical fundraiser for the juniors, but a benefit for the victims in the Rockaways devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Three weeks after the storm struck the east coast, many parts of Long Island remain without basic necessities; the Mineola Junior Fire Department has volunteered their time and services to change that.
As the “backbone” of the Mineola community, according to mayor (and a former junior firefighter himself) Scott Strauss, the junior members stand alongside their seniors in responding to calls and train rigorously throughout the week to become full-fledged firefighters.
With support from the Ladies Auxiliary and donations from Williston Park-based restaurant La Parma, junior fire department Advisors Gary Mazur and Brian Strauss oversaw the execution of the five-hour event, raising over $5,000.
The team of young aspiring firefighters united to serve one simple goal: “to give back to the community,” according to Junior Fire Department Captain Matt Barroca.
Fellow member Chase Pagnani, who has been serving with the junior department for a year-and-a-half did not make light of the situation of the surrounding communities.
“Thirty-six out of state workers were living here for a while,” Pagnani said, pointing around the firehouse.
The fundraiser itself was held restaurant style, with members split among the firehouse to serve different sections of tables while others set up the dining utensils or cooked the pancakes themselves.
Mineola Fire Department Chief Joe Pratt stood with the junior fire department throughout the day expressing his happiness.
“Like everything in this firehouse, this was a dream that grew into a reality,” he said.
Mayor Strauss also stepped in to make pancakes while emphasizing the hard work of the young volunteers.
“They were with the volunteer firemen in this department who left their families to come here and respond to emergency calls,” Strauss said. “They always want to give back to the community in some way or another. It is a tremendous program.”
The fundraising for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts did not end when the breakfast concluded shortly after 1 p.m., as the junior fire department have made plans to travel into the Rockaways Thanksgiving Day to serve food for 12 hours to those still affected.