By Douglas Feiden
Liam Brosnan, a 12-year-old, seventh-grader at Pierson Middle School, was troubled. Some of his classmates seemed under-dressed for winter. Their homes were too cold, they didn’t appear to be eating sufficiently and they lacked basic school supplies.
So he turned to his father, Michael Brosnan, a local builder and contractor, and asked a few simple questions: “Why? How could this be?” In an East End community associated with wealth and privilege, why would numerous kids be so needy and vulnerable?
As the senior Mr. Brosnan tells the story, his son told him of one student who wore three pair of socks and an oversized sweatshirt and lived in a home where the temperature was set at 50 degrees. Liam was particularly struck by the encounter, and he turned to his father and asked, “Why isn’t there a charity for people like us?”
Now, there is. The Brosnans — father and son, with some help from daughter Grace — founded Here@Home, a local nonprofit they operate from 37 Prospect Avenue that supports needy area kids and families by providing winter clothing, grants for home heating bills, school supplies, groceries and other nutritional assistance.
The mission: Meet the immediate pressing needs of families in demonstrated crisis. Make sure those financial strains do not stand in the way of students’ ability to learn in school and work comfortably at home. And provide key aid, as the charity puts it, “not across the country, not across the globe, but here at home.”
“We’re a micro-local charity that provides assistance to families struggling to meet the most basic needs,” Mr. Brosnan says.
That can include anything from shoes and coats to a grant for home heating oil targeted to qualifying area families, which can make it easier for a young student to perform basic homework assignments and enjoy family time.
Mr. Brosnan says he applied for 501(c) 3 status and set up the nonprofit about a year ago as he was recovering from cancer treatment. Along with Liam, he’s working with local businesses to secure donations of time, money, goods and services.
“About three months ago, we started going out to village stores to begin fundraising,” he said.
Just how generous are Sag Harbor’s merchants and residents?