Giving Back

Press Releases

Clergy Council Of Cranford's Martin Luther King Award Winner Officially Announced

Credits: Kathy Monahan

​The Clergy Council of Cranford has officially announced that Catherine Felegi, organizer of Operation Warm Heart - First Presbyterian Church of Cranford (FPCC)​​ chapter will be the recipient of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. The award is given to someone who has made contributions to the cause of improving the community in such areas as civil and human rights, social justice, social action or demonstrated concern for the welfare of others. The commemorative service and award presentation will be held Thurs, Jan 12 at 7PM at the First Baptist Church of Cranford, 100 High St, Cranford. Light refreshments will be served following the event.

Felegi has always been deeply involved with helping those less fortunate, whether it was sleeping over as a volunteer for the FPCC's other sleepover program for those suffering from homelessness, FISH Hospitality Program Inc​; serving at the Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen​ since 2005; or spending time at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey​. She started Operation Warm Heart - FPCC chapter in Dec 2013, working closely with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless​ to establish a chapter in Cranford after reading an article​ about a man in Bridgeton, NJ who was suffering from homelessness and passed away from hypothermia after seeking warmth on a frigid night. That event combined with other personal stories drove Felegi to want to start a program to help those suffering such dire straits.

"It's frightening to think about how some people are just a fire away, an unemployment away, only a few dollars away from homelessness," states Felegi. "We as a community should feel empowered to do something to end the cycle of homelessness and to assist these people to help them rise above their current trials and be self-sufficient again." At the 2016 New Jersey Point-In-Time Count​, on the night of Jan 26, 2016, 8,941 persons were experiencing homelessness with 46% reporting some sort of disability. 513 of the total individuals who were homeless were in Union County.

Sign Up for E-News

Felegi's chapter of Operation Warm Heart works with the greater community to help empower both the volunteers, as well as the guests who sleep at the church. All volunteers find a place. Some volunteers help with basic sewing repairs, such as fixing hems and sewing buttons. Others play games with the guests to help them feel more welcome at the church. Lawyer Harry McDevitt offers legal counsel to guests in need. Social worker Mary McTernan gives helpful advice. Nurses work on a rotating schedule to give blood pressure readings. Linden resident Camilo Castillo assists with translating Spanish for anyone in need. Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen coordinator Jean Wands dedicates time to give out socks and other materials that might be needed. Hair stylists Lauren Curley of Styles Streetand Lynne Fitzpatrick of Guillotine Salon and Spa alternate cutting hair and trimming beards. A multitude of clothing sits on the stage of the gym where guests can search and take at their leisure. Guests are also welcome to take showers and do laundry. Various houses of worship, such as St. Mark's AME Church - Cranford​, First Baptist Church - Cranford​, Osceola Presbyterian Church​ in Clark and the Calvary Lutheran Church​ Confirmation class cook meals for the guests to enjoy. Every once in a while, volunteers will offer their special talents, such as Cranford-local piano instructor Mel Freda in conjunction with singer Joe Conboy, who regaled everyone with Christmas carols at the Dec 20th hosting.

Not only do people volunteer their time and energy, they also volunteer their materials. Support the Girls​ in Springfield donated feminine hygiene products this year for the guests to take as they need. Emily's Hats for Hope Initiative​ gave a large collection of hats, scarves, and gloves, all hand-made. The award-winning Vanilla Bean Creamery​ gave lots of ice cream for the eager guests.

"I never thought that my chapter of Warm Heart would end up being this big," states Felegi. "It's really exciting to watch the guests and volunteers interact, watch the volunteers take this program and make it into something that is more beautiful than I could ever imagine, and see those who are benefiting from this program rise out of their current circumstances."

Felegi hopes to keep expanding and improving the program as time moves on, with the goals of making her chapter more environmentally friendly for the 2017-2018 hosting year, citing​ that rising sea levels could drive more than 100 million people into extreme poverty and submerge the homes of over half a billion.

"The goal is constant improvement," states Felegi. "The program will keep working to being better and better serve the homeless community."

Operation Warm Heart is a program developed by the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, which has helped find emergency housing for more than 10,000 households. Through the program, 14-20 individuals are housed in various houses of worship throughout Union County from December to March. The First Presbyterian Church of Cranford (FPCC) is continuing their commitment for its third year to aid this worthy cause.

To learn more about the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, call (908) 355-2060, or email To learn more about Operation Warm Heart - FPCC chapter, call Catherine Felegi at (908) 578-8500 or email To learn more about The Clergy Council of Cranford, call Cindy Hannen at (908) 272-9133 or email her at

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Mon, February 19, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper



Tue, February 20, 3:30 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Black History Maze in the Children's Library

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, February 20, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Monoprinting at the Plainfield Public Library

Arts & Entertainment

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

February 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Another Holiday, Another Encounter with Marine Life along Jersey Shore

February 19, 2018

SPRING LAKE, NJ — In neighboring Spring Lake, a baby seal made its way onto the beach near the north end pavilion early this afternoon.

Photographer Nancy Orlowski discovered the harbor seal pup near the jetty situated just south of the pavilion on Ocean Avenue at Ludlow Avenue.

The seal’s Presidents Day appearance on February 19 comes one day after a whale was spotted off the ...

¡HOPES CAP, Inc. Ofrece Preparacion de Impuestos GRATIS en su Communidad!

February 19, 2018

PLAINFIELD, NJ - ¡HOPES CAP, Inc. Ofrece Preparacion de Impuestos GRATIS en su Communidad!

Los servicios estarán disponible en los siguientes lugares:








Habrá disponible ayuda con la aplicación para números de ITIN y también habrá Auto
Preparación de ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Rapps Pharmacy: What You Need To Know About The Flu

There seems to be no end in sight for the current flu season which has touched every part of the country, and right here in New Jersey.  Rapps Pharmacy, an independent, full service, and locally owned Plainfield neighborhood pharmacy, offers these tips:  

As influenza virus activity increases and is likely to continue circulating for upcoming weeks, the Centers for Disease Control ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (Bantom,2017)

How does a writer of a beloved series like Harry Potter or Temperance Brennan break out of their readers' expectations and try something new? For J.K. Rowlings it was the novels penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith; books about a maimed and very flawed private detective with the unlikely name of Cormoran Strike. For Kathy Reichs, it is the ...

Drama by Raina Telgemeir

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2012) (target audience, Young Adults)


When my daughter, Shauna, was six years old, we took her to see her first Broadway production; a revival of The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills. I knew that it was the last time Mills could get away with playing Dorothy, and I impressed upon Shauna that seeing this show was a special moment in her life. As a ...

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, 2017)

Yesterday my cousin, the daughter of my mother's sister, called me from California where she lives, and hit me up for money. This is not the first time she has asked me for money, and not the last, I am sure. She grew up the daughter of a privileged family and cruised to Europe frequently when she was a child. Her wardrobe came from ...

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 2017)


Sharyn McCrumb is, quite simply, an American gem, and one of my favorite authors. From her books set in Appalachia with strange characters who remind us of our pioneer past, to St. Dale, a masterpiece about the legendary car racer, Dale Earnhardt in McCrumb's NASCAR series, McCrumb's poetic language and attention to ...

Maisie Dobbs by Jacquelline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press, 2003)

In the song “The Schuyler Sisters” from the Broadway musical Hamilton, sister Angelica sings, “ I've been reading 'Common Sense' by Thomas Paine. So men say that I'm intense or I'm insane, You want a revolution? I wanna a revelation . . .” because she and her sisters are “looking for a mind ...