Passaic County’s municipalities are receiving donations from three educational associations of Passaic County Technical Vocational Schools. The Education Association (PCTVEA), School Office Employees Association and Custodian/Maintenance Association have teamed up to secure $16,600 in grant money from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Pride in Public Education funds. The money has been used to buy meals for frontline workers at the William Paterson University coronavirus testing site and the county Sheriff’s Department, as well as to purchase food and/or much-needed supplies for each of the 16 towns of Passaic County that send their students to either PCTI or the DCL STEM Academy (located in Wayne).
“I want to thank the PCTVS associations for donating food to our testing site at WPU,” said Mary Ann DeStefano, a frontline volunteer and nurse at PCTI. “It is really appreciated by all of the volunteers. We look forward to lunch every day we are there.” In addition to DeStefano, PCTI nurses and medical arts instructors Jennifer Magna, Leonor Ambrose, Karen Brawley, and Ana Henriquez have been volunteering their time at the site.
PCTVEA members have also been helping to distribute meals to Paterson students since March. History teacher Rachel Dewey and Criminal Justice instructors Joseph Petrocelli, Robert Nutile, and Christopher Davies, along with Petrocelli’s son, Luke, have been volunteering from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. twice a week to ensure the city’s students are fed.
“Just because school is not meeting does not mean we lost our concern for the students,” said Mr. Petrocelli. “We are glad we can assist in making sure the students are properly fed. Their well-being remains our #1 priority, whether we are in a school or not.”
As for donations, Marc Foti, PCTVEA President, contacted the mayors of each town to see where the money would be needed most. Presently, the associations have purchased food and supplies such as soap, detergents, and toiletries for New Hope Ministries’ food pantry in Prospect Park, St. Agnes Food Pantry in Little Falls, and The Senior Center in Passaic, with more donations for the other municipalities expected in the coming days and weeks.
“On behalf of our community, New Hope thanks the PCTVS educators, nurses, office workers, custodians, maintenance workers and all who participated in the food drive to benefit our food pantry,” Executive Director Phil Beverly said. “This drive will aid our efforts to support hundreds of low-income families struggling due to the economic fallout of COVID-19. [They] have put food on the table for those who need it the most – thank you!”
“I am greatly humbled to be a leader in an association that is willing to help out when possible,” said Mr. Foti. “Partnering with the other associations at PCTVS and NJEA to donate to needy families is great. Helping out those working at the testing site and the essential workers in the county is the least we can do.”
School Office Employees President Margie Rivera shares similar sentiments. “It's great to see PCTVS teachers, school office employees and maintenance/custodial workers come together to try and make a difference in our communities,” she said, adding, “Together, we're able to encourage, support and spread hope during this season of such trials! It's a blessing to be part of this wonderful organization that makes a difference in the lives of people!”
Some of the additional planned donations include food and supplies for West Milford Presbyterian Church Food Bank, Bloomingdale Church’s Drive-Through Food Pantry, Hope Pantry at Calvary Temple in Wayne, and to pantries and food banks in Wanaque and North Haledon. Donations are also in the works for the ambulance corps of Hawthorne, Woodland Park, and West Milford.