Here’s to Mike Lipkind, who stepped up to help survivors of the Breezy Point fire during Superstorm Sandy.
He lives in Brooklyn, where he keeps about 35 hens. The flock includes Black Australorps, Barred Rocks, Turkens, Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and some bantams he rescued around Easter time. He’s acquired them over the past couple of years, first getting some on purpose and then rescuing others that had questionable futures. The bantams came from a project a photographer had, to photograph kids for Easter with baby chicks. But after that, no one wanted them. Some came from Westchester, after a chicken owner got crossways with a neighbor.
“I’ve always been an animal nut,” he said. “Some of them were missing feathers or needed other care when I got them.”
He usually sells his eggs with his sister’s vegetables at a farmers’ market in Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He found himself with about 10 dozen eggs after the storm was over, so he took them up to Breezy Point and cooked breakfast.
Breezy Point is a community on the Rockaway Peninsula of New York’s Queens borough. It was
devastated by flooding from the hurricane, which caused electrical fires that burned more than 100 houses.
Mike wanted to do something to help, so he packed up his eggs, a butane burner, a folding table, cooking pans and went out to serve breakfast. He cooked the eggs to order, served with white or whole wheat toast and orange juice.
“I asked people how they liked their eggs and fixed them the way they wanted them,” he said. “People should be treated with dignity.”
Mike’s an independent guy, working for the city as an operating engineer running heavy equipment. He stayed on, using his skills to help out where he could to get generators and heaters working. He’s Hazmat certified, so he’s helping out with advice on mold.
Mike is supporting the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department, which lost its ambulance and fire truck in the storm. They need help to replace their equipment.
“Any department willing to donate used equipment can contact the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund , a local firematic charity that is coordinating the effort (Chairman Brian Farrell, (516) 840-8839 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance to all the brothers willing to help the RPVFD,” reads the web site, which explains about their unusual needs and unique equipment. They need trucks and ambulances that can operate on the narrow, sandy roads, with 4-wheel-drive and a short turning radius.
“The mindset in Breezy Point is that they don’t want to take anything,” Mike said. “Everybody’s attitude is that they don’t want to take anything for themselves. I’m arguing with them about taking a toothbrush. They are very hesitant about being beggars or taking advantage. It’s a little too much. You’re not asking for luxury items.”
Mike credits that selfless willingness to help others with the fact that no lives were lost in the catastrophe.
“Everyone was looking out for somebody else,” he said. “That’s the culture and the way these people treat each other. What’s happening is so gratifying. Me doing it isn’t a big deal.”