La Jollans join restaurateur to raise funds and hope for Superstorm Sandy victims


By Ashley Mackin

Restaurateur James Brennan, co-owner of Herringbone in La Jolla and others, is raising money for those affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Rockaway, New York native’s efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and he is currently on the East Coast helping to rebuild homes.

Since the storm, which hit New York and New Jersey in late October, Brennan has held fundraisers at Herringbone to help the victims. He also launched the Rockaway Relief Fund through Catholic Charities of San Diego.

Sister RayMonda Duvall of Catholic Charities said it is accepting donations on behalf of the Relief Fund. “We’ve been passing on the money to the Rockaway area for services and equipment that’s being purchased (such as) generators, boilers, wiring, and help in cleaning out sand.” She said the charities are trying to meet basic necessities and “help people survive.”

Funds have also been used to fly 17 people from New York to San Diego, where the children in that group have been placed in a private La Jolla elementary school. La Jolla residents with second homes not being occupied are housing the families.

Brennan, a member of the Catholic Charities board, has been traveling between San Diego and New York, where he has a command center set up to distribute donations and organize volunteers. His goal is to rebuild 105 homes, and has started with those of firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers, the first responders in situations like this.

A Facebook page — — has been established to keep interested parties up to date with efforts. A donation page has also been set up through — — Catholic Charities. To ensure the money goes to the Rockaway Relief Fund, include “Rockaway Beach” in the “In honor of” box and check “Hurricane Sandy Relief.”

Duvall said the mission of Catholic Charities is to be a witness of mercy and justice. “I think James is doing that to the 100th degree by showing up, using his own resources (and) leveraging as much of his personal resources that he can to the benefit of his former neighbors and some he doesn’t even know. I applaud him and am proud to have him as a board member of Catholic Charities. He is an extraordinary demonstration of mercy and justice.”