Welcome to Pete Braglia, chief operations officer of the Long Island Cares, Inc. food bank, who is helping us out in the operations department.
We’re short of staff because our director of operations has just retired, and our food procurement manager is on medical leave, so Braglia’s assistance comes in handy at a food bank that feeds 28,000 people a week.
We have a special connection to Long Island Cares, which is the food bank originally founded in 1980 by Harry Chapin, a Long Island native, and his wife, Sandy. The late singer/songwriter/social activist fought hunger and donated the proceeds of every other concert he performed to that cause. The full name of the food bank is Long Island Cares – The Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Harry died in 1981 in a car crash on the Long Island Expressway. Our food bank was renamed the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida in 1994 with the permission of his widow.
Both Long Island Cares and the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida honor his legacy and carry on his passionate fight.
Braglia’s duties, while here, will be procuring produce and handling logistics for food coming in to the food bank from various sources.
He volunteered to come and help. He considers it giving back. “Why wouldn’t I?” he said. “There’s a bigger cause here, not just finances and logistics, but people who need help.”
Braglia has been working at Long Island Cares for 10 years. He never met Harry Chapin, but he did go to one of his concerts in Westchester, N.Y.
On the day Chapin died in 1981, Braglia remembers he was sitting in a barber’s chair, having his hair cut, when he heard the news of the fatal car crash. Chapin had been on his way to an outdoor theatre at Eisenhower Park on Long Island, now renamed the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre, to perform a free concert that night. Braglia was planning to go to that concert.
Both Long Island Cares and the Harry Chapin Food Bank are affiliated with Feeding America, the largest food bank network in the country, with 200 members. Like any family, the food banks help each other out when help is needed.
“We’re so happy to have Pete’s help,” said Richard LeBer, Harry Chapin Food Bank president and CEO. “What a terrific example of the national spirit of collaboration and impact across our hunger relief network. I think Harry Chapin would be proud.”