WAYNE, NJ – An economic storm has already begun to form and the dark clouds that cover the horizon continue to move toward us. It’s possible that good fiscal decisions by all levels of government can prevent this storm from becoming a hurricane, but a recession worse than 2008 or even a depression is a possibility.
What the future will hold and what our new normal will be is unknown, but right now, the record unemployment we enjoyed three short months ago is now on the opposite end of the spectrum. Over one million New Jerseyans have applied for unemployment benefits over the last two months and that number continues to grow. Most businesses are closed, and they don’t know when they can get back to making a profit. When they do open it’s not likely that they will be hiring back every furloughed or laid-off employee.
It’s a scary time but Wayne has always taken care of its own in times of crisis.
In 1984 when floods devastated the Township, Wayne stepped up and the Wayne Interfaith Food Pantry was formed to make sure residents had enough food to eat. In 2011 Hurricane Irene hit Wayne hard, and one-year later Superstorm Sandy was even worse, the WIN Food Pantry was there along with several other organizations.
The volunteer and community spirit in Wayne Township is strong and there are several organizations that have formed or stepped up to help during these difficult times. Each group is doing their best to help in any way they can.
Separately, they can do good things. Together, they can do great things.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fall-out whose scope is yet to be known, Wayne is responding with Wayne United, which was described by Jill Goordman of the Wayne YMCA as: “The WIN Food Pantry on steroids.”
Wayne United is a collaborative effort of several non-profit organizations who serve Wayne and the surrounding area. The growing group currently consists of these organizations:
- Wayne Interfaith Network Food Pantry
- Wayne YMCA
- Wayne Volunteers
- Wayne Township Public Schools
- Wayne Council of PTOs
- Wayne Education Association
- Wayne Township
- Wayne Helping Hands
- Feed It Forward
- Wayne Volunteers
- The Boys & Girls Club of Northwest New Jersey
- Community Foodbank of New Jersey
“We don’t see September being that much better than right now,” said Goordman. “We don’t see this going away that quickly. So, Wayne United is not a one-time situation; we are here to respond and to continue support during this pandemic, and for as long as it takes.”
“Our mission is to be a long-term, sustainable, community-wide response to the growing issue of food insecurity that is being experienced by our neighbors,” said Laura Tiedge, the Executive Director at the Wayne YMCA.
Wayne Mayor Chris Vergano applauds the efforts of the group. “This has brought a lot of different groups together. If and when we reach a crisis situation, where a lot more residents are going to need food, we will be there to address it. It’s a great thing, and we should be proud of that.”
“In typical Wayne fashion, people are stepping up to help those in need,” said Wayne Town Councilwoman, Jill Sasso. “I'm thrilled that so many notable organizations have joined forces in the fight against hunger. In a time when food assistance needs are greater than any one organization can address on its own, these great organizations have united and show their strength as a combined entity.”
“What’s so awesome about this is that there are no egos in the room,” added Tiedge. “We all just understand the dire situation we are in and want to help and help as many people as we can.”
Tuesday, Wayne United held its first group collection and distribution of donated food.
Right now, the Wayne School district’s school nurses and the Wayne Department of Senior and Social Services are contacting families in need and offering food.
“We had a good turn out on Tuesday, but we know that there are many more people who need and will need food,” said Goordman.
To get on the Wayne United distribution list people can reach out to the WIN Food Pantry, the Wayne school nurses, the Wayne YMCA or to Rosemary Acampora, the Director of the Wayne Township Department of Senior and Social Services.
A long-term problem, needs long-term thinking and a long-term solution. The people of Wayne are stepping up, but more, sustained help over the next few months, or even years is needed.
Wayne is taking care of Wayne. One community united and strong.