Union County News

'Taste of Union' to Benefit Union Family in Need

The Lacerda family

UNION, NJ – Chrissy and Michael Lacerda’s lives were almost perfect. They met in 1997, married, and welcomed their daughter Skylar in 2010. They were a young, hardworking couple who bought their first home together in Union and were active in the community. Things were good.

One day in May of 2016, Michael began experiencing a persistent headache. Chrissy didn’t think much of it, and suggested he take some aspirin. Michael obliged, and within a few hours his headache was gone. The next day, his headache returned  He told Chrissy it was more of a neck ache, near the bottom of the back of his neck. Thinking it was nothing but a stiff neck from sleeping poorly, Chrissy rubbed Bengay on his neck before bed. 

On May 7, Skylar awoke, but Michael did not get up with her, as was his usual routine. Instead, Skylar got into bed with her mom and dad to watch cartoons.  When Michael awoke, he exclaimed that his headache was “really bad.”  Suddenly, he began shaking. He could not respond to Chrissy. She thought he was having a heart attack. 

Sign Up for E-News

The ambulance arrived and the decision was made to take Michael to Overlook Hospital. This quick decision, said Chrissy, probably saved his life. The doctors discovered that Michael had a brain aneurysm that had ruptured. He was in critical condition. He had immediate surgery and spent two days on life support. His lungs collapsed. He had three strokes while in the hospital from complications of the aneurysm. 

Michael spent 41 days in the Neuro ICU.  He was transferred to the Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange where he spent another 35 days, until his rehabilitation benefits were exhausted.

According to Chrissy, Michael has short term memory loss, balance and coordination issues. He can walk slowly, but does not have a lot of endurance. He has cognitive and memory deficits. He cannot work. He cannot drive. He lost hearing in his right ear. 

“But he has the best attitude around,” said Chrissy.

The family received health insurance through Michael’s employer, as Chrissy’s employer does not offer insurance.  Since he’s been out of work, the family has been on COBRA, at a cost of $2,400 per month. 

“It is killing us,” said Chrissy, “but we need to keep up the insurance so Michael can continue to get therapy, his prescriptions, numerous monthly doctor appointments.” 

Chrissy said his therapy sessions will cease on April 17 because his outpatient therapy insurance benefit will be maxed out. As of this time, State Disability has denied Michael’s claim. Chrissy is appealing.

Chrissy said she has wiped out their savings just to cover the monthly mortgage and bills. 

“Michael cannot be left alone due to his cognitive impairments, so I cannot get second job,” said Chrissy. She said her family has been supportive and help transport Michael to and from therapy and doctor appointments. These days, she simply cannot afford to miss any more time from work.

“I know with the help of my community, family and friends, Mike will be able to keep getting the care he needs,” said Chrissy. 

This is where the community has stepped in to help out. The 'Taste of Union' event, which annually showcases local restaurants and food vendors, will donate 100 percent of the event's proceeds to the Lacerda family.    

“We think this will be our best event ever,” said Phyllis Monguso, one of the "Taste of Union" event organizers.  “We heard about the Lacerdas and their story really touched us. Chrissy’s family and friends from the Ironbound section of Newark have been tremendous. It’s going to be a great evening.”

The ‘Taste of Union’ will be held on April 20, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Union Knights of Columbus, 1034 Jeannette Avenue.

Tickets may be purchased at the Clerk’s Office in the Municipal Building, 1976 Morris Avenue (908-851-8501) or at the Senior Center, 968 Bonnel Court (908-851-5290). Information on donations can be forwarded to Phyllis Monguso at 908-851-5290.

“We are so grateful to the ‘Taste of Union,’”,said Chrissy.  “These donations will help us with our insurance premium and getting Michael the help he needs.  It will also help to bring awareness to brain injuries, which is so important to us.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Union Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Fatally Stabbing Father

March 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – The Union man accused of stabbing his father to death and setting the home on fire last May has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison, announced acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan on Monday.

Jeffrey Adams, 21, must serve at least 85 percent of that term before the possibility of parole, in accordance with New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, under the ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, Feb. 13

March 14, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

Last week’s back to back nor’easters left a wave of destruction that Westfield hasn’t experienced since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three thousand homes lost power. Over 40 roads were closed due to downed wires and/or trees. Our police responded to ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice


Sun, March 25, 11:00 AM

Shackamaxon Country Club, Scotch Plains

Hear Our Voices: MemoryCare Plays

Health & Wellness

Westfield Police Blotter: DWI, Reported Fraud & More

March 14, 2018

March 7, 2018 2:06 a.m.

Carlos C. Mendoza, age 33, of Garwood, NJ, was arrested on the strength of three Westfield Municipal Court warrants ($750) pursuant to a traffic stop in the area of South Avenue in Scotch Plains. Subject was transported to Westfield Police HQ where he was processed and refused after posting bail.


March 9, 2018 2:09 p.m.

A resident of Sandra Circle ...

Wardlaw+Hartridge Students Walk the INDIE Red Carpet

March 20, 2018

Wardlaw+Hartridge student filmmakers graced the red carpet in style before showcasing their wonderful productions in the fifth annual INDIE Film Festival at the Berry Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 10.

The afternoon included separate screenings for Middle School and Upper School films and receptions following each session. All filmmakers, actors, families and friends enjoyed the ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Gratitude Goes to the Girls! Mindful Monday Series - # 1

March 19, 2018

I am thrilled to launch our first edition of "Mindful Mondays" today!  Why Mindful Mondays? After several years of working with individuals in a variety of settings, many have asked me: "What's all this mindfulness about anyway?"  I often respond with, "It's different for everyone," but in general I begin with this definition ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...

Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

Fifteen Westfield High School juniors and sophomores were honored by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food items for families in ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Day After

Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves sustainable?

Good ideas and worthwhile projects are suggested regularly. The question is, do they ...

Profit from Recent Volatility with Stock Market Bargains

Markets retreated in February, the worst down month in two years. A record surge in volatility caused several ETFs designed as leveraged bets on low volatility to plunge, with at least one being forced to liquidate and hand its investors a near total loss.

The Causes of February’s Market Retreat

The initial catalyst for the sell off was inflation. The January jobs report showed ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...