March 18, 2019 By Christian Murray
Sunnyside stepped up in its hour of need.
About 80 percent of the 103 employees who lost their jobs following the 5-alarm fire that broke out on Queens Boulevard in December have found new employment, according to Sunnyside Shines, which managed the relief effort. Many have been recruited by local businesses.
“Pete’s Grill has hired three people, Blvd Diner has hired two people, and Bantry Bay, The Skillman and Sanger Hall have hired at least one person,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines, who is in charge of the relief effort. “There were others as well.”
Bean said that some businesses hired workers just to help out those in need.
The community also pitched in, she said, to help the displaced workers while they were between jobs.
The public raised $165,300 through the Sunnyside Fire Relief Fund, a fund that was launched just hours after the blaze tore through New York Style Eats, Sidetracks, UPS, Zen Yai, Romantic Depot, and Better Line Hardware.
The fund included $40,000 that was generated on Dec. 17 through a fundraiser held at Sunnyside Community Services. More than 600 people attended the event to show their support and contribute.
In January, Sunnyside Shines registered all the employees who went without wages following the fire and has now allocated most of the funds.
“We were able to provide 103 displaced workers with just short of $1,600 in assistance each,” Bean said, adding that Sunnyside Shines will be releasing the financial records so the public can see precisely how the money was allocated.
Bean said that some of the workers still seek full-time positions. She said that the BID is still working on their behalf to help them find positions.
The cause of the fire still remains under investigation, an FDNY spokesperson said last week.
Two of the businesses that were devastated have re-opened in Sunnyside since. The UPS store has reopened a temporary spot at 45-18 Queens Blvd., while Better Line Hardware is now located at 43-24 Greenpoint Ave.