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Eric Katz: Growing up in New Jersey, 30-year-old Eric loved sports and was a natural athlete. At age 15, he developed transverse myelitis, which left him without the use of his legs. Not one to bow to a challenge, Eric became so proficient in his chair that he was recruited by the University of Arizona with a full scholarship to join their wheelchair basketball and track teams. He also became interested in using his engineering gifts and life experience to help others with disabilities, an interest he pursued in his graduate studies at the University of Connecticut. Eric now works in a firm designing prosthetics for paraplegics.
Eric and his father worked for four years to make his “dream home” in Toms River wheelchair-accessible. They finished their work two weeks before Sandy struck, making his dream home uninhabitable.
The process of remediation and rebuilding has been slow and agonizing, and Eric still doesn’t know if he will be able to obtain flood insurance. Yet, Eric has still found time to be there for his clients, helping them regain mobility and independence.
Eric applied to Hometown Heroes for a grant to help him restore his home. They were able to be there for him because of Robin Hood’s support. And with help from his dad, Eric hopes to be back in his home by Thanksgiving.
When Robin Hood witnessed the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy across the tri-state area, we knew we needed to extend our hand beyond New York City to our neighbors in New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island.
To find effective organizations in the most devastated regions, we put boots on the ground and began visiting programs that were helping people in need. In New Jersey, we came across one group – Hometown Heroes – that was getting the job done, funneling help to thousands of local residents.
We began funding Hometown Heroes with a grant of $50,000. The need was great, and their work was exceptional, so we continued to fund their efforts to the tune of $1.125 million dollars, which they used to help New Jersey residents with everything from household bills to replacement furniture to security deposits on new homes.
Hometown Heroes is so effective, it was selected to lead the State of New Jersey’s Restore the Shore campaign.