First Lady's Relief Fund Marks Second Sandy Anniversary Volunteering Alongside Recovery Partners
Morristown, N.J. (October 30) First Lady Mary Pat Christie, chair of the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, recognized the second anniversary of the storm by visiting grantee partners in Toms River, Neptune and Union Beach. Mrs. Christie spent the day volunteering and spotlighting the nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, and effective partnerships that are helping New Jersey families and communities recover from the storm.
"Working alongside our recovery partners to bring two families home for the holiday season is really rewarding," said First Lady Mary Pat Christie. "Two years after Sandy we remember all that was lost, but more importantly we recognize the tremendous progress, acknowledge the resiliency of New Jersey people and thank the countless individuals, volunteers and local leaders who have worked tirelessly to ensure our state will emerge stronger than ever."
The Relief Fund announced its final grants yesterday bringing the total awarded by the Fund to more than $37.2 million supporting 106 nonprofit organizations. Half of the grant dollars allocated by the Relief Fund went to Housing Assistance including home repairs, rental assistance, gap funding and housing counseling services. You can view the Relief Fund's Two Year Impact Video here.
The First Lady began her day of service with two of the Relief Fund's grantee partners in Ocean County. Last year A Future With Hope received a $750,000 grant from the Relief Fund and theOcean County Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) has been awarded $1.75 million. The organizations teamed-up at the private residence of Chad and Angelina Lorenzo in Toms River to assemble a deck and put the finishing touches on the nearly completed home.
Mrs. Christie with the Lorenzo family in Toms River. More images here. Photo Credit: Governor's Office
An Ocean County LTRG case manager assisted the Lorenzo family in applying for critical financial resources to help the family of five rebuild including unmet needs funding from the LTRG and an ICC grant from the state. A Future With Hope is the construction agent on the project and the Lorenzo home marks the 100th house constructed by the nonprofit organization since Sandy.
"This home repair project highlights that teamwork and partnership is what will get us to that finish line," said Bobbie Ridgely, Executive Director of A Future With Hope. "With the help of the First Lady's Relief Fund our organization can continue to bring more families like the Lorenzo's home. We are grateful for their ongoing support and for Mrs. Christie being here to lend a helping hand."
The First Lady also visited the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, the recipient of a $500,000 grant from the Relief Fund. "As a beneficiary of the Relief Fund's grant dollars, The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties is using these funds to ensure that more than 4,000 Sandy-impacted households - about 15,000 individuals - who continue to need monthly emergency food are helped via our network of local pantries and soup kitchens," said Carlos Rodriguez, Executive Director of the FoodBank. "We are excited to have the First Lady visit the FoodBank to see firsthand how the Relief Fund's grant is keeping New Jersey strong one meal at a time."
While at the FoodBank Mrs. Christie packed "emergency meal boxes" with 40 pounds of nutritious food, enough to feed a family of four for three days. The boxes are then transported via a Mobile Food Pantry to Sandy-impacted households throughout New Jersey. Staff from the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund were also on-hand to sort donated goods and pack "limited cooking boxes" for those families without regular access to a kitchen.
The First Lady and Relief Fund staff pack boxes at the FoodBank of Monmouth
and Ocean Counties. More images here. Photo Credit: Governor's Office
The day concluded in Union Beach where the First Lady and Governor Chris Christie thanked volunteers participating in Habitat for Humanity Monmouth County's Sandy Anniversary Blitz Build. Mrs. Christie gave remarks announcing a $500,000 grant in support of the organizations critical work.
"It is wonderful to have the Governor and Mrs. Christie at our Blitz Build today. We were also ecstatic and honored to learn that we will be receiving a half a million dollar grant from the First Lady's organization. This funding will enable us to continue our rebuilding efforts here in the Bayshore area and help many more families in the rebuilding process," said Ray Gabler, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County.
First Lady and Governor Christie thank volunteers participating in Habitat for Humanity Monmouth County's Blitz Build in Union Beach. More photos here. Photo Credit: Governor's Office
The Blitz Build is a four-day event mobilizing teams of volunteers and sponsors to rebuild fivehomes in Keansburg, Middletown and Union Beach. Mrs. Christie thanked volunteers at the home of Barbara Costanza who lives with the youngest of her four children Joseph. The family was very appreciative of the visit from the Governor and First Lady. "I'm thankful to the Governor and Mrs. Christie, the wonderful volunteers and my friends at Habitat. It has been a difficult two years. Thank you for not forgetting people like me. Hopefully, this Thanksgiving will be our first holiday at home since the storm and it wouldn't have been possible without everyone's support," said Union Beach homeowner Barbara Costanza.
For more information about the First Lady's Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund visithttp://sandynjrelieffund.org.