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YMCA Partners With Mountainside, Rao’s To Address COVID-19 Needs


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Risa Cretella, Senior Vice-President for Rao’s Homemade, with YMCA President and CEO Buddy Evans

The YMCA of Montclair in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center and Rao’s Homemade participated in #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5, a global day of giving and unity in response to the urgent needs of the greater Montclair community during the COVID-19 crisis.

The day is designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.

“Although our Y is closed to the public, our mission remains to serve the needs of the community,” said Buddy Evans, President and CEO of the YMCA of Montclair. “We have pivoted to meet the safety and childcare needs of first responders, facilitate blood donations, reach out to isolated seniors, and feed those who are hungry. We do this with our partners the American Red Cross, Mountainside Medical Center, Toni’s Kitchen, and The Community Food Bank of NJ,” said Evans.

The YMCA of Montclair and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center have partnered on healthy living initiatives for the past two years. Today, the two organizations work together to collect and distribute PPE equipment. Showing support and gratitude is an important part of #GivingTuesdayNow, so the Y asked its members and staff to take photos with signs of support for the employees of Mountainside Medical Center for a video. The video was posted on the Y’s social media channels and e-newsletter and sent to Mountainside Medical Center. To view the video, the Youtube video link can be found at https://youtu.be/D1DwHMyig7w.

“Our partnership with YMCA of Montclair is based on our shared mission of strengthening community,” said John Fromhold, Chief Executive Officer of Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center. “We are grateful for the Y’s support and for the support shown by our community for the heroic work that our healthcare teams and support staff are doing to care for those affected by COVID-19. We are proud of and grateful for our team members’ dedication and commitment.”

Risa Cretella, Senior Vice President, Group Manager at Sovos Brands/Rao’s Homemade was looking for ways to help the community. Ms. Cretella checked in on how the Y was fairing during the shutdown, and out of this conversation came a partnership around the day of giving. Rao’s offered to match donations up to $5000 and provide a gift basket for those who donated $200. Addressing food need is a funding mission of Rao’s. Rao’s also supplied the makings of a pasta lunch for the children in the Y’s emergent childcare program for essential workers, many are children of Mountainside Medical Center employees.

The day raised $7,165 and counting with 53 donors. The generous match provided by Rao’s Homemade added another $5,000 to the total.

“Rao’s Homemade is proud to have our home office in Montclair. Demonstrating support for our surrounding community is extremely important to us always, but especially during this time. We are honored to partner with the Montclair YMCA on this worldwide day of giving. The YMCA’s dedication to serving essential workers during this time of crisis is admirable and inspiring,” said Cretella.

Also lending their voices in support of the Y are Montclair notables Evie Colbert, founding board member and president of the Board of Montclair Film; Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Bobbi Brown, CEO at Beauty Evolution, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; and Bill Hurlock, 1st Ward council member. Each one has created a video in support of the Y’s #StayWithUs campaign. The campaign asks Y members to continue paying their membership dues as a donation. More supporters’ videos will be added in the coming weeks.

“We are so grateful to our donors and partners for helping the Y help others,” said Evans. “We look forward to the day when we can welcome everyone back through our doors. But until then, the safety and health of our community are paramount. Stay safe and be well.”

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