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Yelp Awards Red Hook Nonprofit with 'People's Choice' Vote

 The "Yelp Helps Brooklyn" program donated almost $5,000 to the Red Hook Initiative and the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
The "Yelp Helps Brooklyn" program donated almost $5,000 to the Red Hook Initiative and the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
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RED HOOK — Through an initiative that serves to connect online and offline communities, popular website Yelp has awarded a Red Hook nonprofit with about $2,250 to help fund their youth-based programs.

The Red Hook Initiative won the “People’s Choice” vote through a Twitter contest and survey, which encouraged attendees of Yelp’s Brooklyn events to choose their favorite charitable organization.

About $4,500 was raised through Yelp’s kick-off events, which was split evenly between the neighborhood nonprofit and the Brooklyn Community Foundation, another local organization, said Peter DeNat, Brooklyn community director for Yelp, in an email.

Yelp, the website that features user reviews of restaurants and local businesses, has been hosting a series of “Yelp Helps Brooklyn” events in August, to raise awareness of local charities. About 21 nonprofit organizations participated in their kick-off parties, said DeNat.

The race was close but after the votes were tallied, the Red Hook Initiative won in a narrow victory, said DeNat.

“Every staff member was very surprised and happy,” said Alisa Pizarro, lead community organizer for RHI.

While Yelp has been running “Yelp Helps” events since 2010, this is their first year in Brooklyn.

“Every [nonprofit] that participated is extremely deserving, but I can't say I'm upset that RHI won,” said DeNat.

“I personally had a great experience volunteering with them post-Superstorm Sandy, which is what led me to reach out to them to be a part of Yelp Helps,” he said.

The funds raised will support RHI’s goal of creating long-term solutions, particularly to help people recover from Hurricane Sandy, said Samhita Reddy, director of development for the nonprofit.

The nonprofit that serves to empower youth in Red Hook, will look to connect their young members with jobs, education and extracurricular activities, giving them the skills to be self-sufficient, she said.