Stories From Main Street: LI Couple Using Contracting Skills To Help Disabled

Gina and Vincent Centauro
Photo credit Sean Adams/WCBS 880
By WCBS Newsradio 880

FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A Long Island couple is using their contracting business to restore hope for families, one home at a time.

Vincent and Gina Centauro, of Franklin Square, have devoted a majority of their working hours to helping others at absolutely no cost to them.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams learned in this week’s “Difference Makers: Stories from Main Street,” their charity, Rescuing Families, is a nonprofit that renovates homes for people living with disabilities.

“A lot of people think we're crazy, I'm gonna be honest with you,” Gina said. “We renovate the homes of families with disabilities to make them accessible and safe for them.”

The couple is the heart and soul of the charity, which they decided to start after caring for family members that struggled with disabilities themselves.

“The charity has taken over about 95% of the time, we are still doing smaller jobs the bill to us support ourselves,” said Vincent.

They pour much of their own savings into their mission and their motivation to keep the charity running is extremely personal.

For Gina, her sister keeps her going.

“She’s deaf, developmentally disabled and autistic,” she explains.

For Vincent, he renovates homes in honor of his father.

“I’ve been taking care of my dad since about 15-years-old. He was disabled from the war,” he tells Adams.

Gina also explains that she’s been feeling the urge to help others ever since her father took her to the Bowery as a child to hand out coats to the less fortunate.

“It's an empathy thing, I mean, you can't look at someone and not see someone struggling and not want to do something about it,” she said. “That's just how we were raised.”

Their charity has a website that allows people to follow along with current projects they are working on and encourages others to get involved.

For those who can’t donate time, they ask that they donate something to their charity yard sales, which are held to help raise funding for projects.

“It approximately 1,800-square feet of yard sale and we get donations from all over Long Island,” Gina said. “People come and they donate their stuff, they drop in on our front porch.”

Local companies also help out by donating building materials so that they can properly renovate homes customized to a person’s particular needs.

Vincent said the most common renovations they do involve doorways and bathrooms.

“We make the doorways larger. The next thing we do is give them handicap bathrooms where they can roll right into where there's no obstacles for them. They have enough challenges throughout their life they don't need a challenge to try to just take a shower,” he explains.”

The charity most recently renovated the home of a Long Island man who is battling ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Gina says their mission is simple and as long as they can help, they will.

“We're helping families just like ours,” she said. “We know what they've been through, we know what they're going through and we figured, we're not rich people but we have the ability to be able to help.”

If you’d like to learn more about the charity or find out how you can get involved, visit RescuingFamilies.org.