In honor of Mayor McCarthy’s First Annual Charity Gala, five noteworthy Bloomfield organizations have received recognition and monetary support for their efforts.
In an upbeat ceremony last week at the Town Hall, McCarthy praised the organizations for their ongoing contribution to the Bloomfield community. “We have around $35,000 to give out. Today we’ll give out about $20,000,” he said and proceeded to award the following organizations checks on behalf of the township:
1. United Way of Bloomfield - $12,500
2. Bloomfield Municipal Alliance - $2,500
4. Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network - $2,500
5. Bloomfield Recreation Department - $500
As the recipients came forward to receive their checks, McCarthy discussed their work and its impact on the community.
“What do you say about the United Way? They have been an integral part of the community for fifty years,” he said. “Every day, if you were there on Broad Street, Ida was there, helping people. Ida finds a way to give, despite the fact that on a local and national level, the world has given less to the United Way.”
He referred to Ida Pafundi, its Executive Director, who, along with Trustee and Officer Janet McCarthy (the mayor’s wife) and Trustee Peg O’Boyle-Dunigan, are responsible for the operations of the organization. When Pafundi stepped up to receive the check, she said she was shocked by the generosity of it.
“I never expected twelve thousand five hundred dollars!” she exclaimed after the ceremony.
Also recognized were the Bloomfield Municipal Alliance for its annual toy drive, the Bethel Community Development Rehoboth Food Pantry & Meal Center, the Bloomfield Recreation Department and the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network.
“When it comes to taking care of the people of Bloomfield, the Neighbor to Neighbor Network is one of our proudest accomplishments,” said McCarthy. “What everyone here does is, we bring people back to normalcy. We help people turn the lights back on, we help them walk in shoes that don’t have holes in them.”
The NTNN provides food, clothing, home repairs, school supplies and even pet food to residents of Bloomfield and Glen Ridge, as well as providing access to affordable day care, senior visitations and pet care via the John A. Bukowski Animal Shelter.
When accepting the check, Karen Lore, President of Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network and Acting Director of the township’s Health and Human Services department, said the money would be put to good use. She gave examples of times when the NNTN steps in to help residents, such as when elderly people need assistance with food shopping and or children need supplies to start school.
"We help kids so they can go to the first day of school with a new backpack and a new set of clothes, like any other kid.”
Both McCarthy and his wife became emotional at certain points during the ceremony. The mayor recalled an occasion eleven years ago (“I had only been mayor for about five minutes”) when, with help of the community, he helped pay for the funerals of two Bloomfield children who had perished in a fire.
“What does a mayor do? He tries to find solutions,” he said, marking that moment as his realization that he could make an impact on people’s lives, especially those who were struggling or suffering some misfortune.
“Being a mayor is not about banging a gavel and running a meeting, you have to give back,” he said. “You have to have God in your soul so we can do this thing.”
After the ceremony, Pafundi spoke with Patch about her work.
“I can tell when someone needs help. They can’t eat, they need a home, they have cancer . . . I think an awful lot of people are starving in this town. It makes me sick to think that children are going hungry. We can help them.”
Pafundi also says she works with the Salvation Army, Bloomfield mental health services and community health services in Belleville. “Anything anybody needs, all they have to do is come to me and I can help them. This [check] is a blessing. It goes a long way.”
Contributors to Mayor McCarthy’s First Annual Charity Gala: Investors Savings Bank, PNC Bank and Dan Tomasino, Provident Bank, BCUR, Excel Credit, McManimon & Scotland, Bloomfield BMW.
Board of Trustees Members: Mayor Raymond J. McCarthy, Janet McCarthy, Cathy Loreto, Warren Valentovic and Marva Hanks.
Mayor McCarthy’s First Annual Charity Gala will take place on October 3, 2012 at the West Orange Manor.