By Brenda Flanagan
On 12-12-12, a constellation of musical stars drummed up millions of dollars to benefit Sandy victims like 65-year-old Mary Brooks. She lost everything in her Monmouth Beach apartment.
“And we sat there and cried and hugged and cried,” Brooks said. “It was very depressing at first. It was really depressing.”
Not anymore. On 3-30-13, Mary moved into a brand-new rental — a modular home mostly paid for by the Robin Hood Foundation — the non-profit distributing the 12-12-12 concert cash.
“It’s beautiful — after going from motel to motel,” Brooks said.
“The Robin Hood Foundation was a God-send,” said Donna Blaze who heads the non-profit Affordable Housing Alliance. She bought 17 modular units with the Robin Hood Foundation grant. Nine are up already — and all will be rented to Sandy refugees.
“All the money has to go directly to the projects that they financed,” Blaze said.
You might say this development has “musical connections.” It used to be owned by Bruce Springsteen’s wife, Patty. She sold it to the Housing Alliance for half price. Then the Robin Hood Foundation donated $1 million.
Two-thirds of the concert proceeds have gone to housing groups. These two- and three-bedroom homes come with new appliances — like a newfangled dishwasher.
“I’ve been washing dishes all my life so I don’t know what to do with it,” Brooks — who never owned a dishwasher — said.
Brooks pays $850 a month in rent. Donations of cleaning supplies, food and pots and pans let her cook a real breakfast for the first time in a long time.
“It was wonderful just to get eggs over easy for once — not a microwaveable egg,” Brooks said.
“We’re able to sleep a little better at night. We don’t have to worry about her much,” said Brook’s daughter Thomassina who is visiting from Kentucky. “And they said, ‘Get mother where she needs to go.’ … That was my mission. They said, ‘Do not come home until she’s in a home.’”
She’ll head home, now that her mom’s settled in — with a hew home, and a new sense of peace.
“Having your own bed, rollin’ all over it — it’s nice. It’s really nice,” Brooks said.