resident William Borzilleri last visited his native Long Beach ten years ago,
when he celebrated with fellow alumni of Long Beach High School’s Class of 1952
at their 50th anniversary reunion. On his return to the storm-ravaged
city two Sundays ago, however, he found nothing to celebrate.
After he had seen the destruction Hurricane Sandy wrought on the barrier island where he grew up and raised his children, Borzilleri wanted to help somehow.
“It wouldn't kill me to help out in a time of need,” he said.
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At first, Borzilleri thought he would deliever some needed supplies, or, being handy with tools, he could assist in rebuilding. After he contacted Patch to find a volunteer organization he could join, the 78-year-old drove his Honda CRV more than 300 miles to his cousin’s house in Baldwin, where he slept overnight before arriving in Long Beach the next day.
Borzilleri met with Sarah Hartman, co-founder and operations manager of NYC More 2012, an organization of runners who have helped with relief efforts in Long Beach
since Sandy battered the city Oct. 29. He worked in a storm-damaged house alongside four people from the group, who all helped the homeowners clean and dismantle sheetrock from their dwelling.
“Sarah and her group are very well organized and got to work quickly,” he said. “It was obviously not the first time doing this.”
Nor was this Borzilleri’s first time assisting hurricane victims. He was living in South Carolina when Hurricane Hugo slammed the southeastern United States in 1989. After the storm, he and his friends took part in the restoration efforts in the Charleston area. While in Long Beach on Nov. 24, Borzilleri said, he was amazed at the eagerness and efforts of the NYC More volunteers, and they were happy to have him.
“It was extremely generous of him to make the trip to Long Beach and we were all quite moved by his desire to be of service,” Hartman said.
Born at Long Beach Hospital in 1934, Borzilleri grew up on East Pine Street and Blackheath Road. After high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and later worked as a physical education teacher, met his future wife, Judy, in 1959, and married her the following year. The couple built a home on Eden Road in Lido Beach, where they raised four children, and moved to Lake Placid in 1968. Eighteen years later they relocated to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, but returned to Lake Placid in 2004.
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“It looks like Long Beach has quite a ways and effort to go to get back to some sort of stability and normalcy,” Borzilleri said after driving around his hometown.
Now he's considering a return to the city, possibly with his son, to rejoin the relief efforts for a few days.
“The effort was well worth it”, he said. “… There is so much more to be done.”
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