June 11, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Long Island City community is banding together to help out a longtime, well-known local who was severely burned in an apartment fire in Hunters Point two months ago.
Barry Foley, 60, was one of several people sent to the hospital after a fire broke out at 11-14 46th Ave. on April 24. Foley, however, was the only person listed in critical condition, and was sent to Cornell Hospital’s Burn Unit, where he remains today.
Since the fire, Foley’s extensive circle of friends and family have come together to help cover the costs of his numerous surgeries and treatments. Roughly 450 people, for example, have already raised over $75,000 for him through GoFundMe. And next week, a fundraising event will be held at Manducatis Rustica—one of Foley’s most frequented restaurants.
Many describe Foley, who emigrated to New York City from Ireland about 30 years ago, as a joyful, fiercely loyal person who gets along with everyone.
“He’s exceptionally outgoing,” said Wayne King, who was roommates with Foley in the now-uninhabitable 46th Avenue apartment for the last 10 years. “He’s very intelligent, articulate, and an extremely funny guy who is very much attached to his friends and family.”
King says the sheer number of people who have come out in support of Foley is telling to the kind of person he is.
Indeed, the hundreds of comments on his fundraising page say it all, with many posting photos showcasing Foley’s goofy personality and several lamenting his absence from the Ear Inn, the popular SoHo bar, where he worked as a bartender.
“He is top-notch,” said Maribeth Poalson, a longtime friend of Foley’s who started the GoFundMe page. “He just has such a bright, good light, but he can also give it back to you when you’re giving it to him.”
Poalson, like many others, was devastated when she learned about the fire.
“Through tears I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’ And then I thought about it and said, ‘He’s going to have a long road to recovery, so why don’t we try fundraising?'”
Both King and Poalson say the fundraiser would make Foley, a “proud Irish man”, angry, but insisted that he wouldn’t hesitate to help out his own friends and family.
“If this happened to any of us, he would be the one leading the charge himself,” King said. “Talk to anyone who has known him for six minutes or 20 years–they’ll say he’s extremely loyal. That’s why you’re seeing this level of concern and effort.”
Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, the owner of Manducatis Rustica, said the fundraiser at her restaurant is a way to help Foley, whom she describes as “an amazing person,” be comfortable once he leaves the hospital.
“That evening, when I found out, there were no words to describe what I felt,” Cerbone-Teoli said of the fire. “It was absolutely one of the most horrifying things to find out.”
Foley has undergone several skin graph surgeries since the beginning of his stay, treatment for a lung infection, and is still unable to accept visitors given the need to keep the room sterile, according to the GoFundMe page.
“It’s going to be a really long haul,” said Cerbone-Teoli.
Staff at Manducatis Rustica have also decided to work for free on the day of the fundraiser, and will donate their tips to Foley’s fund, Cerbone-Teoli said. In addition, Foley’s family, who flew in from Ireland to be with him, will be at the fundraiser.
The “Evening For Barry” will be held on June 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Manducatis Rustica, located at 46-35 Vernon Blvd. The event has a $40 cover charge, and includes dinner, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverages. There will also be a cash bar at the event. All proceeds will go towards Foley’s expenses and recovery.