Paving the Way to a New Life— One Brick at a Time

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House on the Rock, a tiny Rockaway Beach church with enormous dreams, and an indefatigable congregation, is finally getting its own home—and they’re inviting the entire peninsula in.

Inspirational stories of hope, love and rising from the ashes permeated Tuesday night’s fundraising event at Thai Rock as more than 25 local business owners turned out to support House on the Rock’s massive endeavor, Believe in Rockaway Church and Community Center, slated to break ground this summer.

If all goes according to plan, the 20-year-old itinerant, non-denominational church, will finally have a home to call its own by 2020, at 601 Barbados Avenue in Arverne. 

Facing some insurmountable odds, it was a rocky road getting here, but the congregation of about 100 is fueled by faith and their storied history of tragedy and ruin—driven, now more than ever to do God’s work. House on the Rock’s eight piece children’s band, Hot Rocks set the tone of the evening—to a standing ovation—as they belted out “With You, nothing is impossible.”

Back in 2012, over a span of ten days, three life-changing catastrophes struck Pastor Garry Patrylo:  the death of his father, Reverend Garry S. Patrylo Sr., founder of House on the Rock at the age 59, a house fire, charring more than 30 percent of his body with second and third degree burns and just 48-hours after the fire, Hurricane Sandy swept through, destroying their all their belongings and leaving their church and home in ruins.

In a true test of faith, and a story of a resurrection of sorts, Pastor Patrylo was finally released from the burn unit two months later, propelling him to where he is today, crediting the love of his family and God for keeping him going. 

“What took place in 2012 began to change our perspective. When things get difficult, you then begin to see what really is inside of you. Behind all these tragedies, we found this great purpose. Dreams are important, but without hard work, they won’t get you anywhere, so for the last five years, I’ve been working with House on the Rock church to rebuild our group and Believe in Rockaway,” Patrylo said.

House on the Rock’s story of devastation and tragedy made its way to Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization that provides aid to people in need as a key part of Christian missionary work. With $500,000 in seed money for a new space, they were off to a strong start, but it wasn’t enough. Determined not to let a lack of funds thwart their efforts, the pastor and his wife, Katherine, dug deep into their own pockets, donating their entire retirement fund of $100,000 to close the financial gap and purchase the land. Believe in Rockaway Church and Community Center was finally becoming a reality.

But they still need help, so they’re calling on local businesses and residents to partner with them through a fundraising effort with their Brick Engraving Campaign. Community members and business can support this project and help them pave the way to greatness, and join the dream by purchasing personalized engraved pavers.

“I believe in Rockaway. My wife and I live in Rockaway, work in Rockaway and are raising our family, fourth generation, here in Rockaway and I know all of us here share a common interest in making our community better,” Patrylo said.

For more than 20 years, House on the Rock has been a community minded church since its inception by Patrylo’s dad, Reverend Garry S. Patrylo Sr. Over the years, they’ve offered ministries for children, free music lessons, church youth groups, boy/girl scout type programs, summer camps, basketball workshops, beach events, food pantries, addiction ministries and an Easter Sunday boardwalk event that draws more than 400 attendees annually.

“We’ve done all of this throughout the years without having our own facility,” Patrylo said.

The 20,000 square foot Believe in Rockaway Center will house sports, health and wellness programs, a school of music and dance, music and theater, art, child services and after school programs, youth nights, kid clubs, family circles, education, technology, career development, culinary classes, agriculture, oceanography, community forums and concerts.

“We’re working together to do what we’ve always been doing,” Christina Calvache, church member and organizer said. “Only now on a grander scale.”

With that, the inaugural rocks were unveiled to the delight of the first supporters of Believe in Rockaway, including Thai Rock, Elegante Restaurant, Last Stop Gourmet Shop, Rockaway Roasters and CROM Fitness.

Among others, Fat Cardinal Provisions, Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue, Edward Jones, Pink Elly Clothing, La “V” en Rose Productions, Zingara Vintage, PIP Marketing Signs and Services, Uncle Louie G’s Ice Cream and Luv Cleaning, turned out—some curious to learn more, others ready with pen and checkbook in hand.

“We're really hoping that the walkway around the community center and church will be a true reflection of the community, especially those establishments that have been here for generations,” Calvache said.

“I may have a rock to depend on. You may have a rock to depend on. But how many people don’t have that rock in their life?” Patrylo said. “The Believe in Rockaway Community Center wants to be that rock foundation for children and families of Rockaway. So we’re asking everyone to partner and consider joining in the project to build a future generation of dreamers visionaries and entrepreneurs,” he said.

If you’d like to join the goal of impacting thousands of lives and help them pave the way, one brick at a time, go to Believeinrockaway.comHouseontherock.com or check them out on Facebook.

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