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East End to Philippines: 'We Are All in This Together'

East End Cares will hold a fundraiser for East Hampton resident Brian Lydon's relief efforts in the Philippines at Gurney's Inn in Montauk on Friday.

A photo from Leyte Credit: Courtesy of East End Cares
A photo from Leyte Credit: Courtesy of East End Cares
East End Cares, a group that was formed in response to the devastation on Long Island after Sandy in 2012, is now extending its reach to the Philippines, reeling from Typhoon Haiyan last month.

East Hampton resident Brian Lydon has spent the better part of the past month with a group of Filipino volunteers organizing a relief effort in the small villages around Leyte. A large number of the more than 5,000 people killed were on Leyte, Samar and nearby islands in the Eastern Visayas region, according to news reports.

A fundraiser, "East End Cares for Leyte" will be held at Gurney's Inn to raise money for Lydon's efforts on Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served, and there will be live entertainment. Admission is $25.

Lydon also created a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $25,000. 

Melissa Berman, one of the founders of East End Cares, said, "One of the coolest things to me is that Brian is working alongside a wonderful group of Filipinos who are connected to Montauk's Venus Yunker. Venus is Filipino herself and her family and friends have been doing volunteer work for those in need in their ancestral village of Hindang for years," she said.

The group has travelled to remote mountain villages to bring supplies, such as clean water filters and solar chargers for cellphones, Berman said.

"It's really beautiful how our community has come together to support the effort, it makes it a full circle of service. The generosity of this community never ceases to amaze me."

Paul Monte, the chamber president and CEO of Gurney's Inn, helped organize the event by lending support to East End Cares. "It's a real grassroots group and their work always has an immediate and direct benefit to those affected. The Sandy response was a great example," Monte said. "In this case, the East End is having a tremendous effect half-way around the world . . ."

All the money raised will be used to provide food, water, shelter and medicine to the remote village of Leyte, Monte said.

"There is a strong similarity between the East End waterfront areas and the Philippine areas that have been affected, as well as the Superstorm Sandy impact on Long Island and the Typhoon Haiyan impact on the Philippines," Monte said. "In other words, we've all been there and we are all in this together."

Immediately after the typhoon hit, locals flocked to the East End Cares Facebook page to offer assistance. "As Dan Gualtieri posted in those first days, "'Let's get the band back together,'" Berman said.

Maureen Rutkowski did a movie fundraiser and a spin class fundraiser at Cinema Cycle at the Montauk Movie. Sheila Rooney is working with her work connections in Asia to help get supplies to Lydon. Paddlers for Humanity is accepting tax deductible donations.

East End Cares members have not only supported Lydon's efforts through donations, but also with encouragement. "This extends to our new Filipino friends, who are also connecting to EEC members via Facebook. It's a volunteer family on two shores," she said.

If you cannot make it to the fundraiser on Friday, donations can be made to Paddlers for Humanity, a non-profit organization that is collecting the money for this effort, online p4h.org.

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