Brownies Raise Funds for Flood Ravaged Community Center

Brownies from Troop 3368 pose with Manhattan Youth director Bob Townley after presenting him with money they had raised in front of Whole Foods. The girls attend P.S. 234 and P.S. 276. With Townley, from far right: Josie Callamari-Abrams, Katelyn Foley, Lauren Foley, Avani Khorana, Devin Fink, and Kemi Famuyiwa. Photo by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

"Can I see what the pool looks like?" 8-year-old Lauren Foley asked her mother, Teri, as she walked into the Downtown Community Center on Friday with her sister Katelyn, 6.

"No," her mother said. "Because they're working on things."

Above the Tribeca center's reception desk, photos of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy—the mangled remains of rooms for art, ceramics and play, and the damaged pool area—flashed on a screen.

Lauren cupped a hand over her mouth and watched in disbelief.

"It's sad," she said.

But sadness turned to joyful pride as Lauren and Katelyn were joined by other members of Downtown's Brownie Troop 3368 and their mothers. This was a happy occasion for the girls, a chance to present Manhattan Youth director Bob Townley with the money they had raised, along with their adult leaders, to help the center to rebuild.

On Nov. 6, Election Day, Troop 3368's 12 Brownies stood in front of Whole Foods in Tribeca with bins set up for essential items of relief for hurricane victims in the Rockaways. They also asked for money for the nearby community center on Warren Street. Along with funds raised by parents, that amounted to $1,000.

"I want to tell you that the Girl Scouts isn't just about cookies," Foley said to Bob Townley, whose organization runs the center. "The Girl Scouts is about giving back to our community and that's why we did this."

Townley described to the girls how the hurricane had flooded the lower level of the center with 20 feet of water, and how their donation would help to repair the damage.

"Your money that you collected will be used to buy a new art room, new computers, new tables, new everything."

"Of course," he added, "that money has to be amplified a little bit."

Townley estimates that it will cost $1.4 million to restore the center, but he told the girls that every contribution is important. "Sometimes when a lot of little groups become one big group it works," he said.

Avani Khorana, 7, said it was "hard" to keep asking people for money. "But I felt really proud that we were doing it," she said.

"The biggest donation we got was 20 bucks," Devin Fink, 7, said matter-of-factly.

After receiving the check, Townley cheerfully posed for photos with the girls.

"I could do this all day," he quipped, smiling for the camera. "It's a lot better than talking to FEMA."