first_imgHowever, due to the pandemic Brookdale is shifting its focus to a more pressing need: the welfare of its students. Instead of staging an in-person event, they will pivot to a virtual or online campaign designed to raise money to help students who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to help stabilize students in this time of crisis, Zeiss said. LYNNE WARDThis time of year is usually one of People Pages photographer Lynne Ward’s busiest times as she scrambles from gala to fundraiser covering the many charities, nonprofits and foundations in the Two River area. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancelation of all large gatherings and forced everyone to stay at home. This article originally appeared in the April 9th, 2020 print edition of The Two River Times. Mental health organizations have always been extremely important in Monmouth County and beyond and now the need for mental health access is more important than it has ever been. According to CEO Wendy DePedro, the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County is coordinating with local and state officials to meet the growing needs of the community with the public’s health and safety as their top priorities. The agency has transitioned its on-site staff to remote status, underscoring the importance of social distancing and reducing possible exposure to the virus. Fulfill, formerly The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, postponed its “Shine Light On Hunger” Humanitarian Gala, originally scheduled for March 27, to June 4. Fulfill will continue to monitor the situation and decide as the date gets closer, to either postpone again or cancel. So don’t get rid of those dancing shoesjust yet. They’ll be back in style soonenough. In these days of social distancing and the governor’s order prohibiting group gatherings, charities and nonprofit organizations have been forced to cancel their events for the spring philanthropy season. Some organizations have rescheduled for summer or fall dates, while others have canceled completely until next year. The MHA Annual Dinner and 70th Anniversary planned for May 13 will be rescheduled for later in the year. The annual dinner is one of the most important fundraisers of the year for the agency. “Because of the coronavirus crisis, Fulfill is providing all of our pantries and agencies – including Lunch Break, Parker Clinic and Red Bank’s Salvation Army – free Crisis Relief Boxes, sorted, bagged or boxed and, when needed, distributed, including no-cost transportation to their facilities, for them to give out to our neighbors in need. This has caused Fulfill’s costs to skyrocket. We are spending approximately $200,000 per week and we expect that number to keep climbing. Of course that means Fulfill’s gala will be more important than ever to us this year,” said Fulfill CEO and president Kim Guadagno, the former lieutenant governor of New Jersey. Fulfill is also experiencing a critical need for volunteers to pack the Crisis Relief Boxes with the spike in demand. Anyone who is healthy and can volunteer should email [email protected] Monetary donations are also needed. Fulfill’s Adopt-A-Family program allows donors to help a local family get through the coronavirus crisis. A $30 donation funds a four-day Crisis Relief Box for a family of four. All donations can be made at fulfillnj.org. “Our students continue to report that they are facing many challenges ranging from lost income, food insecurity and others so we will focus on efforts on raising money to provide direct financial support to them. We have already received a $50,000 donation and we will leverage that generous contribution to ‘challenge’ others to rise to the occasion,” said Zeiss. According to Tim Zeiss, executive director of the Brookdale Foundation and Alumni Affairs, Brookdale Community College has decided to cancel the Brookdale Scholarship Ball slated for June 5 and said that the health, safety and well-being of guests, organizers and staff is the first priority. The scholarship ball is the school’s largest annual event and has always been successful thanks to the support of sponsors, auction donors, attendees and honorees. “We are in the process of reaching out to a wide network of community agency providers as well as individual mental health practitioners to assure there are enough supports in place to help individuals and their families through this current crisis and in the days to come,” said DePedro. There will be an end to this crisis and the charities, foundations and organizations we support will need our help again. In my 16 years of covering Two River People events, spring is one of the busiest seasons for fundraisers. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, every sector of society has been impacted and New Jersey’s nonprofit community has been hit particularly hard. Many students have lost their jobs andare struggling to adapt to the new methodof taking classes online. Some studentsdo not own or have access to a laptop orWi-Fi. The college has responded to thisneed by making 400 laptops available asloaners. The Brookdale Foundation isproviding funding so those students haveaccess to Wi-Fi so they can continue theirclasses. By Lynne Ward Screening tools, specific guidelines and additional resources are available at mentalhealthmonmouth.org or mhanational.org. “Many of the nurses, health care workers, EMTs, police and others who are in the front lines battling this pandemic are Brookdale alumni,” he said. “So, while the campaign is designed to help students, we hope that people will consider donating in honor of those Brookdale graduates who are helping to make a difference.” last_img