BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - COVID-19 shutdowns have been devastating for Berkeley Heights’ small businesses.  These independently owned businesses help give our town the heart and sense of community that we are all proud of.  Today, the Business Aid: Berkeley Heights fund is launching with the hope that the community will rally to help them survive this health and economic disaster.

Two weeks ago, Berkeley Heights resident Sheryl Manfreda reached out to Berkeley Heights Business & Civic President, Dr. Patrick Smith about creating a community fund to help local businesses. Manfreda said, “Social distancing and government-mandated shutdowns have already had a catastrophic impact on local businesses. Business owners are struggling to pay their rent, payroll, utilities and taxes. Our local small businesses need our help now more than ever.” 

A BHB&C Business Aid: Berkeley Heights team was quickly assembled to move forward with putting Manfreda’s wishes into action. "I know what a lot of people are going through -- I'm listening to it all day long. I would be a fraud if Business and Civic passed on this opportunity. If we didn't try to help our brethren," said Smith.  

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Smith has assembled a group of Berkeley Heights residents, who are prominent business leaders in their respective professions, to form a grants committee.  “Since the BHB&C is made up of business owners and organizations, we needed a firewall. Grant applications submitted by businesses are going to go directly to the grant committee and the committee will divide the funds that are raised according to need,” explained Smith.  “This effort was entirely inspired by Sheryl and the BHB&C is simply facilitating the effort because of our relationship with local business owners and our 501(c)3 status.”  All small businesses within the town limits of Berkeley Heights are eligible.

“I am thankful and proud to live in a town that prides itself on delivering community support. By seeking the help of BHB&C to create this fund, I hope that these businesses will make a triumphant return when the government mandated restrictions are lifted," said Manfreda. "I hope the community will join me in donating whatever they can to help Berkeley Heights small businesses and their employees -- when united, we can make all the difference.” 

When asked of the tall task of raising enough funds to be able to assist the extremely high number of possible applicants, Smith said, "It's a goodwill band aid that will do some good. Yeah, we're not going be able to pay people's bills for three months. Right? It's going to be a hand up from the residents of Berkeley Heights to help preserve the town, and the businesses that they know and love.”

To show your support and contribute to the fund visit: https://www.paypal.me/bhbusinesscivic.  Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law; BHB&C is a 501(c)3 organization.  All contributions will be paid out as grants to eligible businesses by the Berkeley Heights Business & Civic.

Grant information and applications are available for all Berkeley Heights business owners, please email bhbusinessandcivic@gmail.com for more information.