friends and colleagues at work and church tell me that I am always
trying to be super woman, trying to carry the world on my shoulders. As a
mom and wife, I strive to protect and care for my family of seven and
provide my children what they need.
circumstance has brought my family to a point that what I could do was
not enough. My husband lost his job last year and since then has been
working temporary jobs with brief gaps of unemployment. This created a
snowball effect of never catching up to bills, being in danger of losing
our apartment, and the quandary of how we were going to get our oldest
to college — our oldest who had more than earned her share of
achievements in school. It was a very stressful time and being a working
professional, I felt embarrassed and humbled to ask for help. But God
intervened, and I am so glad I did ask.
The help we have received
from Nutley Family Service Bureau has given my family a moment to catch
our breath, a safety net for the times we needed some food, school
supplies and gifts for the children. It is quite something to see the
relief in your child’s eyes when they see you come home with backpacks
filled with supplies for the school year, or when you take them shopping
from gift cards you received from “The Three Kings” at Christmas. My
children know we work very hard and thus expect just what they need. It
is a huge joy when they are able to once in a while receive what they
And my children, being older, know that help comes from this
organization. My husband breathes a sigh of relief when there is one
less thing to worry about, one more thing to be grateful for.
shows them that kindness is very much alive and this, I hope, inspires
them to do great things one day that will leave another family with that
glimmer of hope we received.
Veronica Artis-Bryant was 20 years old and a sophomore at Stevens Institute of Technology when she found out she was pregnant.
was a frightening time for me. I didn’t know where to turn or what I
needed to do to be sure my baby would be born healthy,” she said.
was especially concerned about what to expect when giving birth. Her
sister knew a nurse in the Essex YCS Nurse Family Partnership (NFP)
program and recommended the program to her. NFP provides comprehensive,
in-home support by a registered nurse to first-time inner-city, pregnant
women. The same nurse continues to support the mother and baby until
her child’s second birthday.
nurse, Karen Burton, has been an important part of my life ever since
(we met),” Veronica said. With Karen’s support, Veronica delivered a
beautiful healthy baby girl named Sanai Lily, in December 2016.
addition to advising Veronica with all her medical concerns, Burton
helped her find day care for the baby when she returned to work and
school. She has been there to answer Veronica’s questions about the
baby’s development, and has been a compassionate ear when Veronica is
troubled by relationship issues.
“Karen has been with me every
step of the way and because of her recommendation I was offered a paid
internship with a local business that specializes in the production of
“I was so excited. Someone believed in me,”
Veronica said. “She said the internship has boosted her self-esteem and
given her confidence to pursue a major in mechanical engineering and
“Karen is so much more than a nurse. She is my friend. I
share everything with her and trust her advice and judgment,” said
Veronica, adding, “I am proof that with a little support and
encouragement a young Newark mom can make it.”
Azevedo was born and raised in Newark. He attended its schools and runs
his business there. It’s a city that he knows and loves, so when he got
the opportunity to work with the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, the decision was easy.
think it was a natural fit for me,” Azevedo said. “We were looking for
something to contribute to and give back to, and I always knew about the
Greater Newark Holiday Fund by seeing ads in The Star-Ledger, so it was
a natural fit, growing up where I grew up.”
Serving the area for
more than 80 years, the Greater Newark Holiday Fund began in 1937 as a
gift drive for children of Newark’s neighborhoods. Today, it helps
families and individuals in Essex, Union, Passaic, Hudson, Morris and
Bergen counties by providing funds to area service organizations.
fund primarily raises money from November through February, but accepts
donations from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31 each year. Donations are received
from larger businesses as well as from individuals.
spending several years involved in the fund, two years ago as its
treasurer, Azevedo was asked to step in to serve as president for 2018.
so proud to be a part of an organization that’s heading into its 81st
year. There’s a lot to be said about that, all the good the organization
does is seen by the donors. Even if it’s $5 or $10, people have been
donating to it their entire lives, and they see the value of it.”
Azevedo will be joined by Honorary Chairman Angelo Genova, chairman and managing partner of Genova Burns LLC.
someone who is closely tied to Newark, I know what wonderful work the
fund does throughout the year to help those less fortunate in northern
New Jersey. This is an invaluable opportunity to grow awareness around a
pervasive and all too often overlooked issue in our community,” Genova
managing member with Pereira & Azevedo, LLC, a CPA firm located in
Newark, and Liberty Payroll Solutions, LLC, said he has high hopes for
this year’s fundraising campaign. He set a goal of $400,000, which will
go toward 10 charities — Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of
Newark, Children’s Aid & Family Services, FAMILYConnections, Family
Service Bureau of Newark, Family Service League, Jewish Family Service
of Metrowest New Jersey, Newark Day Center, Nutley Family Service
Bureau, Urban League and Youth Consultation Service (YCS).
addition, the New Jersey Devils are planning to hold an event on Dec. 1
designed to raise awareness of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund and to
raise money for the charity. During that night, the fund will receive
half the proceeds of a 50/ 50 event.
“It’s great recognition for us, they put us on the jumbotron, and it’s been great during the past few years,” Azevedo said.
But he also knows more can always be done. As president of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, Nietzel, along with honorary chairman Marc Berson, chairman of the Fidelco Group, oversaw a fundraising campaign that brought in $372,446, which will be used to help nine charities: Catholic Charities, Children’s Aid & Family Services, Family Service Bureau of Newark, FAMILYConnections, Newark Day Center, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey, Youth Consultation Service (YCS) and Family Service League.
These groups help individuals and families who need help with food, shelter, clothing, substance abuse, mental health, job training, domestic violence prevention, support for child care, parenting and child care skills, women empowerment programs and more; and money raised through the Greater Newark Holiday Fund is indispensable to their good work.
“The (GNHF) board members worked extremely hard this year partnering with NJ.com and Big Click, a social media company,” Nietzel said. “We were able to expand our reach and create new relationships, which we look forward to growing in coming years.”
Berson said he was impressed with the efforts of the GNHF volunteers. “This is my first year actively involved, and I got to really know those involved,” he said. The sincerity and energy and creativity they have. They’re really trying to pick up new approaches and working on ways to grow the base. I think it’s wonderful, and I’m very appreciative of everyone’s help.”
Now in its 80th year, the Greater Newark Holiday Fund began in 1937 as a gift drive for children of Newark’s neighborhoods. Today, it helps families and individuals in Essex, Union, Passaic, Hudson, Morris and Bergen counties by providing funds to area service organizations.
The Fund raises money every year from November through February, with donations coming in from larger businesses as well as from individuals. In fact, Nietzel said about 50 percent of the amount raised comes through smaller, individual donations.
“I want to thank everyone for their hard work, especially the teams at the agencies. They truly are doing God’s work. And I want to thank everybody who made a donation. With your support we were able to reach out through our partners at nine social service agencies and help people in need.”
Berson said he was honored to be asked to work with this year’s campaign. Berson has a long history of working with the community. He has been involved with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center since its inception, has been involved with the Beth Israel Medical Center for more than 16 years, is vice chairman of RWJBarnabas Health, and has been chair of the Opportunity Project.
“It’s wonderful,” Berson said about the agencies. “The things they do and accomplish, my hat’s off to them. It’s sincere, and they’re helping the people who really do need the help. And for that, I feel honored to be able to help in some way and be a participant.”
Board members for 2017 include Marc Berson, chairman, The Fidelco Group; John Nietzel, senior vice president, Investors Bank; Sam Garruto, CPA; Frank Ferruggia, Esq., McCarter & English, LLP; Anthony Azevedo, partner, Pereira & Azevedo, LLC; Jason Altman, regional vice president, Enterprise Holdings; Desarie Ball, senior accountant, Floyd D. Townsend & Associates; Colleen DeNoto, vice president corporate counsel, The Prudential Insurance Company; Kelly Erhardt-Wojie, partner, Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer; Michael Gilfillan, president, Brick City Sports Capital, LLC; Calvin Ledford, director, External Affairs, PSEG; Jim Leonard, senior vice president, NJ Devils/Prudential Center; Philip Lipper, executive vice president, Jones Lang LaSalle; Marie Mathews, member Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC; Jennifer Mazawey, partner, Genova Burns; Michael Petrucci, vice president/area manager, The Provident Bank; Isabel Rodrigues, financial services representative, Mass Mutual Financial Group; Beatrice Romao, retail market manager, TD Bank; Betty Spiropoulos, senior branch manager, Investors Bank; and Ted Zangari, Esq., Sills Cummis & Gross.
Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter and on Facebook. To listen to their podcasts, visit their Facebook page and selected videos.