The September national tragedy prompted Joseph Higgins to seek action, but he has demonstrated his spirit of generosity and charity in the course of 40 years as the owner of the Tara Inn pub in the upper part of Port Jefferson, New York.
He said seeing the devastation in the surrounding region resulting from Hurricane Harvey left him feeling like action was required when he heard about it in late August. In response to the devastation of the storm, the pub owner decided to hold a benefit that day to raise money for people affected. Additionally, Port Jefferson Sporting Goods donated Harvey relief T-shirts, and Higgins donated 100 percent of the bar’s food and beverage sales to an organization that is providing aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the region.
Through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Tara Inn amassed more than $15,200 in sales and donations that day, which was then given to storm victims. The amount raised by Higgins was an even $16,000.
Higgins, 87, told the story of his struggles on behalf of his eight children, telling how he asked God to help him care for them as a young man while trapped in poverty until his wife and he were able to scrape together money to help them. “I am absolutely indebted to God for all he has done for me, and that is why we give back. I have had a really good life, so I enjoy giving back. In my life, there have been instances when I had a chance to do a good thing, but I did not do it, and I always regret it. We want to do everything we can to help others whenever the opportunity arises.”
As so many of Higgins’ friends and family members have attested, his assertion that he has missed opportunities to provide for others feels like a wildly illogical description of his life. As a result, Higgins has been recognized in 2017 as Times Beacon Record News Media Person of the Year.
One of the pub owner’s eight children, Kate Higgins, said that he will say that money does not matter to him. “But the only other people I’ve ever heard say that were millionaires,” she added.
Tara Inn has hosted a wide range of charity benefit events for a variety of causes for almost 30 years, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. When Billie’s 1890 Saloon suffered a fire, the pub sponsored a fundraiser in support of its employees. After the tragic death of Erik Halvorsen, Norse Tree Service’s late owner, as a result of an accident at work in 2016, Higgins held a fundraiser for Halvorsen’s family. Another New Year's Day event helped raise money for a veteran of the Iraq war who was paralyzed while serving his country. As a veteran of the U.S Army during the Korean War, Higgins himself has the highest regard for those who have served their country.
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