Thriving After Tragedy
When Rev. Vincent Fusco came to assess the damage at Coney Island Lighthouse Community Kitchen after Hurricane Sandy hit, his heart sank. “In a word, it was totalled. Totally and completely wiped out.”
Fusco is CEO of Coney Island Lighthouse Community Kitchen, which serves hot meals to hundreds of members of the surrounding community every week through both its onsite and mobile kitchens, along with hosting programs and courses for those in need.
After estimating that the building incurred a staggering $150,000 in damages from Hurricane Sandy, Rev. Fusco wasn’t sure whether the food pantry would become a casualty, or a survivor, of the storm. “When Sandy hit, we thought, this may be the end,” said Fusco.
Yet, without skipping a beat, he and his team of volunteers turned the vacant lot next to the building into a central hub of emergency services following the storm. Coney Island Lighthouse Community Kitchen volunteers handed out donated clothing, food, and emergency supplies for 12-14 hours per day; they even hosted barbecues that fed countless people suffering from a post-storm food shortage.
Five months after the building was torn apart and submerged under 5 feet of water by the hurricane, Coney Island Lighthouse Community Kitchen is still working towards operating at its full capacity, but next week, it will triumphantly serve its first hot meal since Hurricane Sandy.
I was invited to document this occasion, the Grand Reopening, on March 29th. I am humbled by the offer. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Coney Island Lighthouse Community Kitchen expands and improves its service after members of the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) team’s work with the organization to identify opportunities for improvement, following the Grand Reopening.
A wise woman once told me, “In the aftermath of a tragedy, surviving isn’t enough. Thriving is the goal.”
I’m certain we’ll see Coney Island Lighthouse Community Kitchen thriving in no time at all.