Edison, NJ - Just a few months ago, Joseph Johnson, a recent Monmouth University graduate, created the Lena Harris Foundation after his grandmother died from Lupus. The Foundation is already making a difference.
“The foundation was named after my grandmother who fought a long, tough battle with Lupus. She ultimately passed away leaving behind a widowed husband and three wonderful daughters, Leona, Vanessa (my mother) and Natasha,” explained Mr. Johnson.
The Foundation recently held its first annual banquet on April 6, also marking the end of the Foundation’s Mentorship Program. The mentorship program, which was held at J.P Stevens High School, ran from February 9 through March 30.
The 8-week program focused on students who struggle academically, financially, or lack the resources necessary to excel in secondary education. The program aims to assist high school students “with any avenues of life they decide to choose after high school - college, community college, military, workforce,” said Mr. Johnson.
“We organize fundraisers, community events which occur all year round, and scholarships for students from multiple high schools. Our main focus is to assist in finding a cure for Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis,” he said.
The Foundation offers five scholarships to senior high school students to help with the costs of college. This years recipients include Divon Pender of South Plainfield High School, Lia Haynes of Plainfield High School, McRae Nkellekfack of Plainfield High School and Keren Lebron Ramos of Rahway High School. The Foundation will also be giving out another scholarship for a J.P Stevens High School senior at Senior Awards in May 2019.
The foundation’s next event, the 2nd annual 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament Fundraiser, will take place on July 27 at the Metuchen Sportsplex. Half of the proceeds from the event will go towards the Lupus Foundation of America and the other half will go to the Lena Harris Foundation Scholarship Fund, according to Mr. Johnson.