FAIRFIELD, NJ — With a chance meeting one morning, Michelle Dellaterza's passion for helping women and families in need flourished.
Dellaterza, a Fairfield mother of two, explained that when she left two old bikes out on the curb as trash, a local woman rang her bell asking if she could take the bikes.
"I said yes, but warned the woman that the bikes were broken," said Dellaterza. "The woman insisted that her husband could fix the bikes up good as new."
In speaking with the woman, Dellaterza learned that she donated the bikes to a local shelter she volunteered at called Strengthen Our Sisters for women and children affected by domestic violence. The two women also learned that they had mutual friends, were both affiliated with St. Thomas More Church Giving Tree and that the woman's husband worked with Dellaterza's father.
According to Dellaterza, the local Strengthen Our Sisters has since changed locations, but the chance meeting led her to seek out other local charities to become involved with.
"I can't say enough about the support of the local residents in town," said Dellaterza, who has since been collecting various items from community members to donate to the local charities. "They always come through with donations. Our charities are always in desperate need of disposable diapers."
Most recently, she said as an example, Fairfield Recreation Director Tony Pompei came through with a large donation of diapers in all sizes.
Along with her two daughters and her husband, Dennis, who is a member of the Knights Of Columbus, Dellaterza has built a vast network of volunteers that she collaborates with on a regular basis.
She has developed a significantly close relationship with Sister Lois Zampese from Religious Teachers Filipini in Morristown that she said is "dear to [her] heart" and also currently collects for the St. Thomas More Church Giving Tree in Fairfield, I Support the Girls in Springfield and Josephine's Place-A Space for Women in Elizabeth.
Dellaterza said that these charities accept donations year-round and that she can always find a home for any item.
"I feel that by doing even a little, I've done something," she said. "It is never enough; the need is so great."
These charities accept everything from feminine hygiene products, to shampoo, soap, clothing, toys, household items, televisions to new and used adult and children's books, Dellaterza said.
"I Support the Girls is also in need of new and gently used undergarments for woman," she said. "They repackage undergarments in tissue paper and bags to give the women in need a feeling of normalcy."
The community is invited to contact Dellaterza directly at email@example.com to contribute.