Beacon Summit and Union Thunder among those to Respond with Open Arms to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across Newark and New Jersey, La Casa de Don Pedro quickly began to focus on providing much-needed relief to the area’s most vulnerable residents. In true #NewarkStrong fashion, dozens of individuals and organizations have donated funds and resources to allow La Casa to provide emergency food, assistance, and support to more than 1,000 vulnerable residents. In normal circumstances, La Casa typically must ask for support, but these extraordinary times have meant that individuals and groups have knocked on our door to offer to help. Two selfless examples were efforts led by Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation (Summit, NJ) and the Union Thunder Youth Hockey League (Union, NJ.)

Bill Griffeth, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation member and chair of their Green Earth Ministry, originally approached La Casa de Don Pedro in late February. He learned of La Casa’s work in lead abatement and remediation, home energy conservation and energy assistance, and sought to explore how his team could lend a hand. But it soon became clear that La Casa’s immediate need was to support the community during the current crisis. They quickly pivoted their efforts. Carrie Puglisi, Director of Program & Fund Development, joined the congregation during a virtual service in March to discuss La Casa’s needs and shared short videos of our current response efforts over three Sunday services. Together, the Beacon community raised more than $9,000 to support La Casa’s work.

“A silver lining in the dark cloud of COVID-19 is that we now have a deeper appreciation of the many ways in which La Casa serves the North End of Newark and beyond,” Said Mr. Griffeth. Emily Boggis, Minister of Beacon Summit said, “as a religious community seeking to be radically inclusive, to feed the human spirit, and to heal the world as our mission, Beacon is so inspired by the amazing community and vital work of La Casa de Don Pedro. We loved meeting so many of you in the videos! We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with La Casa de Don Pedro.”

Union Thunder Youth Hockey League first learned about La Casa de Don Pedro last winter, when they joined La Casa’s annual #GivingTuesday Toy Drive by way of Bart Ferrigno, Union Thunder member and Wells Fargo employee. His experience was so unforgettable that Mr. Farrigno reached out to La Casa again in March to ask how he could help the families once again. From there, he raised funds with his Wells Fargo colleagues, and connected La Casa to Matt and Caitlin Anderson, who lead the Union Thunder Hockey League. The Andersons quickly responded by organizing an Online Trivia Night Fundraiser for its league members and raised almost $4,000 for La Casa.

“We were so impressed with La Casa and had such a gratifying experience donating toys to #GivingTuesday last December that we wanted to reach out again once the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting our communities. Everyone we worked with at La Casa was so responsive and we really felt like giving to La Casa, in particular, was a good way to connect the people in our communities to the resources they need.” said Mr. Anderson, who now plans to involve all 25 hockey teams within the league to participate in this coming December’s #GivingTuesday Toy Drive.

When communities come together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. La Casa de Don Pedro is truly humbled and grateful for all the support we’ve received during this great crisis, which has separated us physically, but united us emotionally. We thank all of our donors and look forward to building more bonds with organizations and individuals all across New Jersey, the United States, and the globe, as we remain committed to our mission to ‘Empower and Revitalize.’
Through donations from our partners, La Casa has distributed more than $100,000 worth of supermarket gift cards and two tons of fresh produce to Newark families facing food insecurity. We are now going to begin a Rental Assistance Initiative that aims to help save 300 Newark families from becoming homeless due to income loss from COVID-19.
(As of June 2020)
Newark Board of Education
Brookdale Shoprite
Clara Lionel Foundation
Hispanic Federation
NeighborWorks America
Santander Bank
Valley Bank
Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo Regional Foundation
Anonymous Devoted Friends of La Casa
David Abramson
Matt & Caitlin Anderson and the Union Thunder Hockey League Family
Arcelio Aponte
Members of the Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit
Matthew Camdara
Margaret & Richard Cammarieri
 Arden and Allen Epstein
Sharon Fernicola
Bart Ferrigno
Dawn Gammon
Dr. Gayle Griffin
Martin Kurzweil
(In honor of Lanny Kurzweil)
Alice Kwong
Rebecca Mendoza
Louis Prezeau, Jr.
(In memory of Louis Prezeau)
Carrie Puglisi
Robert Rebimbas
Alaine Robertson-Ali
Richard Roper
Russell Simmons, Sr.
Grizel Ubarry
Meredith Whitaker
Andrea Williams
Judith Zaks
Omni America
United Healthcare
Janetza Miranda

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