One Riverhead organization hopes to have a national impact next week by visiting Baton Rouge, La., and bringing along it $15,000 in donated supplies to help with recovery efforts in the wake of recent catastrophic flooding.
Marisa Striano, owner of Spirit’s Promise Equine Rescue, was watching the disaster unfold on television when she heard that numerous animal shelters in the area had also been devastated. She also learned that hundreds of horses in the Baton Rouge area were injured, missing or forced to drink dirty water.
“They lost everything,” she said.
Initially, Ms. Striano thought she would help with recovery efforts by sending supplies. But then she and Lindsay Ekizian, a Spirit’s Promise board member, decided they should go south themselves to deliver the items personally.
“If you feel like you want to do something, you should just do it,” Ms. Striano said. “You don’t get second chances to do something like this to help people. And that’s what we do.”
On Sept. 15, Ms. Striano, Ms. Ekizian and fellow board member Diane Eissler Brockett will fly to Louisiana to meet a freight truck that’s leaving the North Fork Sept. 12 loaded with their donations. The women were able to rent the vehicle thanks to generous donations from Diane Kaczorowski, Skip Skiba, Linda Griefinger, Carol Huck and Joe Mangi. The women’s expenses are being covered by Unity Electric Co. of Queens, which is owned by Ms. Striano’s father.
How you can help
Spirit’s Promise Horse Rescue Program will accept donations of food and medical supplies for horses, cats and dogs through Saturday, Sept. 10. For more information, call 914-420-7650 or 631-664-4381.
Lindsay Bailey, whose family owns Neptune Feed & Saddlery in Calverton, helped round up food and medical supplies for Baton Rouge animal shelters. They will be shipping dry dog food and horse feed as well as wound care supplies, such as gauze and antiseptics.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.
Ms. Bailey, who was approached by Ms. Striano about two weeks ago, has since gathered additional donations for the shipment from Hallway Feeds, Purina Mills, Triple Crown and Nutrena. In addition to medical supplies, she said, they’re donating about six tons of food for horses, cats and dogs.
“I think the experience, overall, has been very rewarding,” she said. “I hope that this is able to change the lives of these animals that unfortunately are counting on people to help them.”
The women also reached out to county police in Suffolk and Nassau and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to gather supplies for Baton Rouge police officers who are working around the clock — even though some of them lost their homes.
Mike Simonelli, treasurer of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, said it’s not every day the police department collects supplies for other states in need. However, he said, he’s happy to contribute to the cause. He sent a memo to Suffolk police asking them to donate household items, as well as food and gift cards, to Baton Rouge’s police force.
“[The police force] is one big family,” he said. “We consider each other family around the country.”
Mr. Simonelli said Spirit’s Promise deserves the credit for organizing the rescue mission.
“We are just happy to participate and help our brothers and sisters down in Louisiana going through this terrible time,” he said.
Louisiana state troopers are excited for the women to arrive.
“It’s an unbelievable show of support from people that are so far away,” Lt. J.B. Slaton said. “It just shows what community is all about.”
Lt. Slaton added that animals are often forgotten in the aftermath of natural disasters.
“There’s a tremendous need, not only law for enforcement animals, but for livestock and horses. To have that support from as far away as New York is absolutely tremendous,” he said. “We can’t thank them enough.”
Once Spirit’s Promise arrives, the group will rent a U-Haul and travel to different animal shelters to drop off supplies.
“It’s not just about helping the horses — it’s about facilitating and helping other organizations that do the same thing we do,” Ms. Ekizian said.
This marks the organization’s first long-distance rescue mission, but the women hope it’s not the last.
“We are a rescue that’s trying to make a difference globally,” Ms. Striano said. “As soon as there is a disaster anywhere in the country, we are going to be there, next to FEMA, helping out.”
Photo: Melisa Striano and her daughter Jessie Siegel at Spirit’s Promise, their horse rescue facility in Riverhead. (Credit: Krysten Massa)