Category Archives for "News & Announcements"

This is What Determination Plus Assistance Can Do

Did you know that many of our 10 partner agencies offer services that support mental health? Through the programs offered by our partners, individuals are finding hope again.

Here is just one of hundreds of stories about personal resilience and the dedicated work of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark

Residential counselor Aleisia Freeman, left, with Erasmo

In just under a decade, the life of Erasmo has changed drastically. 

Almost 40, he has schizophrenia, and came to the Catholic Charities/Mount Carmel Guild residential program in 2010 after experiencing a mental health crisis that saw him hospitalized for more than a year. 

As we see commonly with those who are living with untreated mental illness, he also had been homeless several times.

After Erasmo was stabilized, he was admitted to a group home, where he began to learn independence: the importance of taking his medication regularly and staying educated about his mental illness. He developed coping skills to help deal with his feelings and symptoms of mental illness. 

During this time, Erasmo attended Catholic Charities’ Mount Carmel Guild Partial Care program every day, attending groups and continuing his personal advocacy education. Once he began to thrive in the group home, he transitioned to an apartment facility.

Upon graduating from the Partial Care program in 2018, Erasmo began serving as a role model and peer to other residents in the program. 

He credits Catholic Charities/Mount Carmel Guild Partial Care program for providing what he needed to learn how to face reality: care, education and assistance. He said:

“This place has brightened up my life and eased the pain of being homeless. I feel braver about my life. I have people who help me. I know that I can utilize my counselors, staff, and doctors.”

We love this story.

  1. A young man was able to experience independence from the challenges that often face individuals with mental illness.
  2. The programs offered by Catholic Charities are better as a result of residents like Erasmo.
  3. He paid that experience forward by serving as an example to his peers in the program. 

Isn’t that exciting? We think so!

I am sure you have stories of your own that are a testimony to the power of persistence and determination—stories from your own vault, or stories from loved ones who’ve overcome obstacles. 

We’d love to hear them and be encouraged. Tell us in the COMMENT SECTION below!

We hope you’ll consider supporting our partner agencies who offer assistance to individuals like Erasmo who are experiencing mental illness, like Children’s Aid and Family Services, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Family Service League, and more. You can give to all of these agencies with one donation here.

7 Ways You Can Make A Difference From Your Living Room

During the nationwide COVID-19 crisis, every partner agency of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund is still providing services to those in need. 

Staff and volunteers have had to adapt to virtual assistance, or gear up for in-person service. These heroes are all over the Greater Newark area. We can join in their efforts when we also become the helpers.

Try these 7 ways you can make a difference from your living room. 

1. Listen to inspiring stories

On May 13th, FAMILYConnections is hosting a virtual event called Give Back By Staying Home. You’ll hear stories from clients and staff in the frontlines of this crisis, and Family Connections’ leadership and others about the work being done within the Northern New Jersey community. Registration information can be found on the agency website. 


2. Support virtual counseling

During this time of crisis, requests for counseling are on the rise. Your donation to the Holiday Fund supports organizations like Family Service League, Catholic Charities of Newark, and the Family Service Bureau of Newark, covering the cost of an influx of therapy session requests and the accommodation of telehealth sessions. With the ease and availability of video calls, counselors can still assist clients in crises that need services. Contributions help provide free, confidential, 24/7 access counseling, advocacy, victim recovery services, and more.


3. Feed and diaper babies

Supplies for newborns and infants are dangerously low at Children’s Aid and Family Services. The Baby Basics program, which provides free nutritional formula, diapers, wipes and other essentials, is a true lifeline to low-income families, especially during this crisis. Without the program’s help, many families are forced to resort to rationing diapers or changing their babies less frequently, which may lead to rashes, infections and a host of other problems.

When you donate to the Holiday Fund, you are providing critical assistance to these vulnerable families. 


4. Provide meal program assistance

Organizations like Urban League of Essex County(ULEC) and Nutley Family Services Bureau (NFSB) are committed to providing food to deserving residents. 

Both agencies are directing funds to the efforts in their target community, while NFSB is also recruiting volunteers to help with meal and grocery distribution. Of course masks, gloves and social distancing practices are in place, making it safe for volunteers to process the resources provided. Contact NFSB for information, or find a program in your community that needs your willing spirit. 


5. Golf for kids

Youth Consultation Service is hosting a Charity Golf Classic in October 2020 “fore” the kids. When you register to play or sponsor the tournament, you are providing individualized educational, mental health and/or behavioral health programming to thousands of New Jersey families who have children, birth – adulthood, with special needs. Learn more on the YCS website


6. Sponsor a camper

Newark Day Center provides services for those from infants through adults, and are best known for their Fresh Air Fund, which provides inner-city youth from the Greater Newark area invaluable camping experiences. Kathy Cree, executive director of LifeCamp, says: 

“At LifeCamp the children are participating in so many enriching experiences — reading, science/nature/STEM, computers/robotics, arts and crafts, bikes, chess/strategy games, cross country, dance, drama, financial literacy, nutrition, percussion orchestra, phys ed, Project U.S.E., recording studio, values and yoga — the list goes on.” 

You can provide this gift to a child today with a donation to the Holiday Fund


7. Join a virtual support group.

Be a willing participant in a virtual support group, like one hosted by Jewish Family Service of MetroWest. Throughout the week, the agency’s licensed therapists are hosting groups for parents of toddlers, parents of “quarenteenagers,” and others, including a general support group for anyone wanting to share and gain coping tools during this time of crisis. Learn more on the JFS website


Whether you “volunteer” virtually to help these 10 worthy organizations, or you donate directly to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, your contribution can help front-line agencies continue their missions to serve the community, even in this time of uncertainty and increased demands.

With ONE DONATION to the Holiday Fund on #GivingTuesdayNow (or any other day of the year), you can help meet the tangible needs of families and individuals across New Jersey. Donate to the Holiday Fund today.

Can Happiness Actually Be Bought?

Most of us can’t even remember the first time we heard the phrase, “Money can’t buy happiness” because we’ve been hearing it our whole lives. It’s been imprinted on our brains by well-meaning adults and leaders who’ve taught us to search for joy in places other than our earnings and possessions. And we agree, right?

What if science in the 21st century has proven that mantra untrue? What if there was data to back up the notion that resources and assets can, in fact, alter your mood and even your potential? Well, it has. 

It turns out that money actually can buy happiness.  The question is, how? 

For those with an eye for “stuff,” this sounds like great news. Should we all head to the local gas station and buy lottery tickets? Not if you’re looking for happiness. We’ve all heard the “riches to rags” stories from lottery winners who, years after achieving the dream and winning a treasure, lament their lost relationships and unexpected debt. Momentary happiness turns into confusion and discontent. 

Detailed in the fascinating TEDxCambridge talk by Michael Norton, research is shared to prove that spending money can result in happiness. Norton turns the idea on its head when he reveals this secret: Spending money results in happiness when the money is spent on someone else. This was proven true on a personal, professional, and even a recreational level. 

Norton and his fellow researchers gave money to students at the University of British Columbia– with some instructed to spend the money on themselves and others instructed to spend it on others. The results were consistent: those who bought something for themselves or pocketed the money weren’t any happier than before the experiment, but those who gave to others and engaged in prosocial behavior were happier.

When the researchers worked with teams of professionals, the same results were found: those who spent money on their co-workers were happier than those who spent the same amount on themselves. But an unexpected benefit was discovered: after the pro-social experience of giving to others, the teams actually performed better! The return on investment was staggeringly different depending on the spending direction, with teams spending prosocially seeing a 17 times higher ROI than teams who invested personally. Happier, connected teams achieved more success.

Another important finding was in the amount of money spent correlated to the happiness experienced. The data showed the specific way the money is spent and the amount of money isn’t nearly as important as the fact that money was spent.

“You can do small, trivial things and still get the benefits, ” says Norton. 

Finally, the research was tested among a group of intramural athletes: a dodgeball team. Did the data go out the window in a totally new context?

 Once again the data was consistent, with teammates achieving more happiness and even performing together on the court after the giving experience. 

How can your team benefit from this surprising research? 

  • Find ways to give to one another, building community (and success!) with your prosocial behavior. Pool your resources and find a charity to benefit from your giving. 
  • Choose a recipient as a group, looking to your organization’s mission and your team’s passion to direct your giving, or you can choose a new recipient every time a donation is made. 

The important thing is to give together! 

During the winter months, agencies with food banks and crisis support services need our help more than ever. Several of our agencies have food banks, and support of The Holiday Fund supports them. Click here to give now.

Still Growing The Family


As February comes to a close, we are pleased to announce that we are on track to wrap up the 2019 Giving Season with $345,000 donated to the Holiday Fund! 

We posted an update of donors in January, and our family of donors keeps growing! It’s just been a little over a month since our last donor thank you, and we wanted to take a moment to add our new donors to our Thank You.

Because of your generosity, members of our community have more access to 

  • Eldercare
  • Children’s Services
  • Victim Recovery Services 
  • Mental Health Support
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • and so much more

Thank you so much for helping us make a difference in Greater Newark.

February Update

Santa’s World Tour Included a Stop In New Jersey


For over 80 years, the Greater Newark Holiday Fund (GNHF) has provided services of care, hope and kindness to Northern New Jersey. Even the most impoverished and marginalized in the community find hope all year long thanks to a network of ten social service agencies in northern New Jersey who are best-in-class and pre-screened. Every donation is accounted for and filtered through their caring stewardship.

Over the years, The Holiday Fund has contributed nearly $12 million toward the betterment of thousands of families in the community. Annual donations have exceeded $300,000 a year; a tribute to the civic generosity of the people of New Jersey.

Santa Visits Again

During the 2019 holiday season, The Holiday Fund partnered with McCarter & English, LLP to brighten the holidays for nine students in need.

The McCarter & English Dear Santa Elves have been making children’s wishes come true in the city of Newark for 20 years, serving hundreds of youth in need by partnering with a local school district and providing holiday gifts for students who may not receive any during the holiday season.

This year, Santa asked GNHF to help the Wilson Avenue School (K-8) in the Ironbound Section of Newark that has an abundance of students that faced the potential of a holiday season without any gifts. GNHF and the team at McCarter & English worked with the same Chief Elf/Case Worker, Sonia Echevarria, who previously made wishes come true at Fourteenth Avenue School.

Santa signed an Affidavit confirming the children were on the Nice List (notarized, of course). Chief Elf Echevarria and the Elf Teachers assisted children in creating cards with their wish selections: an item of clothing and a toy for each student. Cards were then selected by the elves for shopping, wrapping, and labeling. Then came the careful job of loading the presents onto Santa’s sleigh for distribution at Wilson Avenue School.

There were many humbling and amazing moments, but nothing compared to the excitement and joy on the faces of the students who were holding in their hands the gifts that, previously, were just a wish on a card.

As planned, Santa (with his joyful helpers at the Greater Newark Holiday Fund and McCarter & English) managed to do it once again, and the holiday season was made brighter for nine New Jersey students.

Our Partner Organizations Serve All Year Long

Don’t forget — GNHF’s impact doesn’t just happen during the holiday season. The partnerships with affiliate organizations like Catholic Charities of Newark, Children’s Aid and Family Services, Urban League of Essex County and more, are strong and active all year long.

Your help is needed, not just during the holidays, but every day. Contribute to the important work of the GNHF Partner Organizations by giving online today.

January Update

Your Donation Makes a Difference


The 2019 Holiday Season is behind us, but we are still aglow with gratitude for the generosity of the hundreds of individual donors that donated to help make a difference in New Jersey. We could not have accomplished all we did during the 2019 Holiday Season without the help of every single donor.

Every dollar counts. In fact, if you haven’t given yet, it’s not too late. You can still make a difference where it counts by donating today at www.HolidayFund.org/give

Thank you, again, to our 2019 Donors. We are so proud to serve New Jersey alongside you and our ten partner agencies.

The Newark Holiday Fund touches thousands of lives

Anthony 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.

“I 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.

The 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.

After 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.

Anthony Azevedo

“I’m 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.

“As 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 said.

Angelo J. Genova, Esq.

Azevedo, 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).

In 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.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at twitter.com/HolidayFundNJ or and Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreaterNewarkHolidayFund.

To listen to the podcasts, visit the Facebook page and selected videos.  

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

The Newark Holiday Fund helps the lives of thousands

John Nietzel knows 2017 was a big year.

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.

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org. This story is sponsored by Investors Bank. Visit myinvestorsbank.com.

— John Saccenti