Chris Wood Rises to NJBIZ Power List
The founder of Sea Bright Rising is among the top 100 most powerful people in NJ business, named by NJBIZ.com.
It all started with some food and a hunger to help.
Now, Woody's Ocean Grille owner and Sea Bright Rising founder Chris Wood is known as one of the most powerful people in New Jersey business in Hurricane Sandy's wake, according to NJBIZ.com.
After Sandy left Sea Bright apocalyptic, Wood instinctively fired up a grill and started cooking for hundreds of displaced residents and business owners.
His business surviving Sandy less scathed, he felt it was the least he could do. Little did Wood know that his random act of kindness would snowball into a firestorm of good will that went from flinging burgers to setting up camp for a U.S. Army National Guard-manned tent city and forming a nationally-recognized Sandy charity — Sea Bright Rising.
"Most people don't have a National Guard general calling with direct orders to do whatever you need," the NJBIZ.com article said. "Wood not only mobilized service members to Sandy-stricken Sea Bright, the restaurant owner also fixed hundreds of meals for residents and volunteers, launched a charity to support borough rebuilding, landed on national news shows and influenced when a state (stet) (county) bridge into town would be open during repairs."
Wood ranked 97th on the list of 100, which some commenting on the Sea Bright Rising Facebook page entry about it criticized, thinking he deserved to be higher on the list.
Nonetheless, Wood, a Fair Haven resident, has turned into a hometown hero of sorts. He grew up in Rumson, graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven (R-FH) Regional High School, got his first job bussing tables at the place he now owns, which used to be Ichabod's. It was then was a hang-out for R-FH grads. Now it's popular with "an older crowd, like us," Wood joked to a fellow R-FH alumni at his reopening.
Much of that "older crowd" includes those same people with whom Wood frequented Ichabod's. And they're very proud of and loyal to him and the Sea Bright Rising endeavor.
In just over three months' time, Sea Bright Rising is on the cusp of hitting its $1 million mark. Since it's inception the non-profit, to date, has brought in $925,000, assisted 160 families so far and distributed $466,000 to aid Sandy-afflicted residents in and around Sea Bright, Wood announced on the organization's Facebook page.
The most recent donation was a check for $9,500 from the Sons of Ireland from the Polar Bear Plunge proceeds. And more keeps coming in, Wood said.
Sea Bright Rising is in the process of accepting and reviewing applications for grants. Volunteers were recently onboarded to help with conducting more interviews, processing applications and referring them to the board of directors.
"Applications for assistance can be picked up at Boro Hall and left there with Trish," a post on the Facebook page said. "She will make sure the volunteers get them. They will then call you for an appointment. You can also complete a request for assistance on line at www.seabrightrising.org."
Who's number one on the NJBIZ list? Gov. Chris Christie. Also on the list is his wife, Mary Pat, for her Sandy work, and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, a Monmouth Beach resident.