The organization really grew, though, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“Everything was wiped out, there was seven feet of water, the place was a mess,” said Salvatore Lopizzo, executive director of Yana Services. “We went from being a community resource to community relief. Soon after we started receiving a lot of donations of clothing, flashlights, batteries that would be given out to people.”
Currently, the organization is completing its work helping families who are still displaced and who did not receive money from the government. They are also assisting single mothers struggling to make a decent salary while taking care of their children.
Lopizzo sees a bright future for Yana Services, this time helping the poor and hungry by providing food stamps and working with the New York City Snack Programs.
Before working with Yana Services, Lopizzo worked in the health industry for 15 to 20 years. Queens has always been Lopizzo’s home, growing up in Ozone Park and currently living in Forest Hills, but his personal ties with Rockaway inspired him even more to reach out to the community during their time of crisis.
“I have many memories of going to the beach, eating ice cream, riding our bikes and spending time with family and friends there,” he said. “It is a very personal place for me.”