Winter 2022 Newsletter
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United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (UWMOC) bridges the gaps to education, financial stability and health for every person in our community. Our vision is a community where everyone achieves their greatest potential through a quality education, income stability and healthy lives.
UWMOC evaluates our community’s unmet needs and directs resources to the areas that have the most impact. Our work helps to ensure that everyone in Monmouth and Ocean County has the chance to build a better future.
BASIC NEEDS INITIATIVE
In Monmouth and Ocean counties, 34% of households are living paycheck to paycheck and do not earn enough to afford basic necessities. Every day, many have to make difficult choices such as paying their bills or buying essential personal care items. Additionally, these products are often not covered by SNAP/food stamps or consistently available in the community.
Through our new Basic Needs Initiative, United Way is providing consistent, reliable access to hygiene and household products to alleviate the financial strain and stress on families. Thanks to generous donations from members of our community, UWMOC has collected over 3,500 basic need items through donation drives for families experiencing hardship. Special thanks to Wegmans stores in Ocean and Manalapan for their generous contributions to kickstart the project.
The project launched in November 2021 through our Financial Success Center Network, and our goal for this first year is to grow the project to reach 250 local families in need per month.
FINANCIAL SUCCESS CENTER NETWORK
Our Financial Success Center (FSC) Network is a one-stop shop for access to free critical financial services and supports for our residents, as well as financial coaching to help develop goals and action plans. Participants are able to determine what benefits they are eligible for, work on a budget and be directly connected with community resources to meet their immediate needs and help plan for their future. Thank you to Investors Bank Foundation for providing funding for the FSC Network.
To learn more about the free services that are available, please call 732-414-6745 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with trained staff.
For a full list of services and more information, visit uwfinancialsuccess.org.
A student’s success in the classroom is not just based on what they learn in school – so much is influenced by outside factors. That’s why we partner with local schools to provide students and families with the resources they need to be successful. Recently, we conducted a partner survey with the schools to determine their most pressing needs and align our efforts to be more responsive. UWMOC currently works with 35 schools throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties with the goal to continue to expand this initiative and partner with additional schools throughout our region.
In September 2021, United Way distributed almost 30,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to local schools to give students and faculty a healthy start to the school year. The PPE was generously donated by FirstEnergy (JCP&L), and their employees also volunteered their time to help sort the hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, sanitizing wipes, and more for distribution.
“During this pandemic, the one thing our staff does not have to worry about it is the availability of cleaning wipes and sanitizers due to the generous supply from United Way,” said Kelly Bernazzoli, School Nurse for Freehold Learning Center. “It helps put everyone at ease and they can focus on educating our students.”
Another part of this initiative is our partnership with VNA Health Group for the School-Based Nurse Practitioner program, which places a bilingual nurse practitioner into schools in at-risk communities in order to directly provide students with healthcare. Working alongside school nurses, the nurse practitioner is able to provide primary care access to all students regardless of whether they have health insurance, prescribe and administer medications for acute episodic illness, conduct screenings and sports physicals, teach management for chronic disease, and more.
YOUTH VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS
One of the gaps identified by our community is the need for alternative pathways for students. Many students lack exposure to vocational opportunities and careers in the trades, which provide alternative routes to employment and financial stability.
UWMOC partners with Toms River Regional Schools for Project SPEAR-IT, a program at High School South which provides a fully equipped shop space for students to receive hands-on pre-vocational training. With about 40 students currently enrolled in the program, this project is now fully integrated within the school curriculum and course offerings.
Early results of the program have shown increased student attendance and engagement, with many students successfully connecting with Ocean County Vo-Tech for further education and training.
As a result of our 2021 Warmest Wishes Coat Drive, over 3,500 local preschool, elementary and middle school students in need have a new coat to keep them warm during the frigid winter months.
Despite another difficult year, 134 local organizations and individuals generously donated 3,518 brand-new coats to United Way – making it our most successful Warmest Wishes Coat Drive to date. Over 4,200 winter outerwear and holiday items were also distributed to children in our 35 partner schools throughout our region. We would especially like to thank Operation Warm Up Jersey Shore and its funding partners for their donation of 1,000 coats, and Advisory Board member Chris Lutick of UPS for donating warehouse space for the drive.
UWMOC began the coat drive in 2012 in order to fill a gap in services that our community had recognized. Nine years later, we have supplied our community with a total of nearly 13,000 new coats.
“One of the things that United Way does very well is listen to our community and identify needs that aren’t being met,” said Bob Rosone, UWMOC Board Chairman. “In speaking with our local school partners, we learned that one of their top needs was new winter coats, especially in the districts with many students who walk or ride their bikes to school.”
With the mask mandate still in effect for all students in preschool through 12th grade, school administrators have also expressed the importance of warm coats for recess and outdoor learning activities that allow students to have mask breaks throughout the day in the winter. As more families are experiencing financial difficulty during the ongoing pandemic, the need for basic essentials such as coats has continued to increase.
“Families were already struggling to pay utility bills and stay warm, and the Covid-19 pandemic has created extra stressors in life,” said Kari Schmidt, Guidance Counselor for the Freehold Learning Center. “All of these factors combined makes the need for coats greater than ever. United Way’s Warmest Wishes Coat Drive supports our students and families and makes a real difference in the lives of others.”
With the continued growth of the drive and in honor of its 10th anniversary, UWMOC will be kicking off the 2022 Warmest Wishes Coat Drive on August 25, 2022 at the Jersey Shore BlueClaws stadium in Lakewood. More details to come!
UWMOC was the proud recipient of the “CauseWheels” Monthly Vehicle Donation Program for May 2021. The “CauseWheels” program began in 2019 as a way for The Causeway Family of Dealerships in Manahawkin to help their neighbors and positively impact Ocean County. Causeway accepts donations of used vehicles and rehabilitates them to be given to local nonprofits that can utilize them for their programs and services.
United Way thanks Dave Wintrode and Joe Stroffolino from Causeway for the generous donation of two vans, as well as Meals on Wheels of Ocean County for nominating us to be selected for the program and providing the retired vehicles.
“The Causeway Family of Dealerships and Meals on Wheels of Ocean County are assets to our community, and we are so grateful to have their support,” said Lori-Anne McLane, President & CEO of United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. “These vehicles are integral to helping us advance our mission and best meet the needs of our residents through our various donation drives.”
UWMOC held a “Napa Comes to New Jersey” wine tasting event at Patricia’s in Holmdel on June 24, 2021. Napa Valley vintner Fleury Estate Winery offered a variety of exquisite wines that nearly 130 guests sampled with delicious Italian food provided by the host restaurant. The event raised $107,000 to advance United Way’s mission.
100% of the live appeal at the event supported our basic needs initiative, and thanks to the generosity of our guests, the funds raised far surpassed our goal.
Special thanks to the inaugural event’s top supporters for making it such a success: Carol Stillwell; Stillwell-Hansen Inc.; Grunin Foundation; Hackensack Meridian Health; Industrial Cooling Corp.; New Jersey Natural Gas; Count Basie Center for the Arts; Phil and Marilyn Perricone; The Roselle Family; Dr. Sig and Candy Sattenspiel; Elizabeth Von Ziegesar; Privetera’s Florist and Landscape Nursery; and Patricia’s of Holmdel.
Fleury Estate Winery is continuing to give back to United Way by donating 35% of all online wine purchases through June 30, 2022. Visit fleurywinery.com to shop and enter the code “UWMOC” at checkout for a portion of the proceeds to be donated.
In September 2021, six United Ways in New Jersey including UWMOC came together to run a major donation drive to support the 9,500 Afghan refugees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The drive focused on meeting the most urgent needs of the families such as diapers, personal care products, undergarments, and cell phone chargers.
“It is unfathomable what the Afghan refugees have left behind and endured to make their way to safety here in New Jersey,” said Lori-Anne McLane, President & CEO of United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. “As part of our mission to bridge the gaps to the unmet needs of our residents, UWMOC is proud to partner with United Ways in New Jersey to support our new neighbors with critical care items and help them transition to their new life in the US.”
Thanks to the generosity of donors throughout New Jersey, 3,327 items with a value of nearly $16,000 were given to Afghan refugee families to help rebuild their lives.
Volunteering with United Way is a great way to get involved and give back to our community. After shifting to virtual volunteering and at-home projects due to Covid-19 safety precautions, in-person volunteering was able to resume in Summer 2021.
UWMOC’s Senior Comfort Bag project began to help ease the increased isolation that seniors in our community are facing due to the pandemic. Our corporate partner USI Insurance Services hosted a Senior Comfort Bag volunteer project at their Toms River office in August 2021 as part of their “USI Gives Back” initiative. Employees collected over 1,000 comforting items such as snacks, games, tea, journals, hygiene items and hand-written notes of encouragement and converged to assemble over 100 bags for local senior citizens in need.
The Senior Comfort Bags are distributed to senior citizens throughout Ocean and Monmouth counties through our partnerships with the Meals on Wheels program. Thanks to the generosity of local organizations and individuals, over 430 residents have received a Senior Comfort Bag that has brought them some happiness during this difficult time.
In honor of September 11th and the victims, survivors and those who rose up in service, we turn tragedy into good by volunteering. UWMOC hosted a 9/11 National Day of Service volunteer project with our partner Ocean County YMCA. The McCormick Spice/Brand Aromatics team, their families and community members came together to completely overhaul the YMCA’s community garden. One volunteer with plumbing experience was also able to install an outside water source to make it much easier to water the garden. In conjunction with 9/11 acts of kindness, volunteers painted kindness rocks to uplift the spirits of those who work in the garden.
Presented by Hackensack Meridian Health, our Annual Tee-Off on May 17, 2021 at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, NJ was our most successful golf outing to date. The sold-out event raised $132,000 to support our crucial programs.
“This has been another very difficult year, but we are thrilled that we were able to safely host this crucial fundraiser,” said Brian Massey, co-chair of the Annual Tee-Off Committee. “We could not have exceeded our goals without the hard work and dedication of the Annual Tee-Off committee and UWMOC staff.”
“I am proud to be a part of this event to benefit an organization that does such important work,” adds Luke Bollerman of Bollerman Companies, co-chair of the Annual Tee-Off Committee. “Funds raised will further our efforts to move Monmouth and Ocean counties forward in this crisis. Our community needs our help now more than ever.”
UWMOC would especially like to thank the 2021 Annual Tee-Off top sponsor Hackensack Meridian Health and all of our sponsors and participants for their support.
To reserve your spot for the 2022 Annual Tee-Off on May 9, 2022 at Hollywood Golf Club, please visit uwmoc.org/Annual-Tee-Off.
UWMOC welcomed a new member to our Board of Directors and a new Advisory Board member for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Each member is eligible to serve three two-year terms, and is tasked with helping to advance United Way’s important work in education, financial stability and health. We thank both our new and longstanding board members for their dedication to our mission and being champions for our cause.
R. Scott Garley worked as an attorney since 1981, most recently as Director at Gibbons P.C. in New York for 23 years, until his retirement in June 2021. A graduate of Colgate University and Fordham University Law School, Scott resides in Little Silver.
How did you get involved with UWMOC? I have participated in the UWMOC Annual Tee-Off and other fundraising events over the years, and my friend Bob Rosone – who is currently Board Chairman – invited me to join the Board. The mission and programs of UWMOC are similar to those of the nonprofit organizations with which I have been involved for many years, so I felt I could make a positive contribution to the work of United Way based on my knowledge and experience.
Which of our impact areas are you most passionate about? I am most passionate about the education impact area as I believe that education is the pathway to a better life for many underserved individuals. I have experience with and made contributions to educational institutions such as Christian Brothers Academy and Colgate University, and have established endowed scholarships at these schools to provide financial assistance to needy students.
How do you “Live United”? I live a life of service and contribution to others, and give back to those who are less fortunate.
Additional community involvement: Trustee of Christian Brothers Academy (CBA); President of the CBA Alumni Association; CBA Hall of Fame (2013); Board Member of Catholic Charities Monmouth County; Recipient of Catholic Charities Light of Hope Award (2006); President and Board Member of Spring House; Board Member of Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA); Recipient of the AHA Recognition Award (2016); Member of the President’s Club, Colgate University; and Governor of Navesink Country Club.
What activities do you enjoy in your spare time? I mostly like to travel, play golf and the piano, do crosswords and read.
Advisory Board Member Dom Santamaria started his company Colossus Media Group in high school with his twin brother. Although he didn’t attend college, he was able to grow the company from a live event videography company into a full-service digital agency with regional and national clients. A member of UWMOC’s Marketing Committee, Dom resides in Colts Neck.
How did you get involved with UWMOC? I was aware of United Way’s work in the community, and then the current Board Vice Chairman Eric Lubin formally introduced me to the organization. I look forward to getting more involved in my local community and see direct impact in the areas that need it most.
Which of our impact areas are you most passionate about? I am definitely most interested in the area of education. Being that I only have a high school diploma, I want more young people to be open to the option of not going to college. There is plenty of opportunity, if not more, for those that can’t afford college or just don’t know what they want to do yet.
How do you “Live United”? To me, Living United means to be free and in harmony with the community around you.
What activities do you enjoy in your spare time? I love nature and being outside, and during the summer you can find me at the beach.