I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in Sunday’s Rally of Hope for the Homeless of Ocean County. There was a very good turnout and we accomplished our goals.
The hungry were fed. The poor were clothed. We showed people how they could assist and end homelessness in Ocean County. And we established networks for the people who advocate for the homeless. We also thanked those groups and individuals who have helped over the past year or two.
I would say we had more than 300 people participate in the rally. We also had about 20 groups sign on as cosponsors of the event. There was an equal number of information tables set up where groups were able to tell about their organization’s efforts and recruit volunteers to assist them.
We offered blood screenings and a grooming station that offered free haircuts.
People donated more than $1,500 in cash and food. (I will account for those donations in a more formal report later. Thank you to Tom Spina and his Luminer Foundation for collecting those funds.)
Our discussion of homelessness as a social justice issue by local clergy went well. Thnak you to Pastor Michael M. Mazur (East Dover Baptist Church, Toms River), Professor Rumu Dasgupta (Georgian Court University), Imam Maqsood Qadri (Islamic Center of Ocean County, Lakewood) and Rabbi Robert Rubin (Temple Beth Or, Brick.) A thunderstorm interrupted Rumu and Robert and I hope we can have them speak to our group again.
The Kiwanis Club of Jackson, along with a volunteer Stosh, cooked the food. Branches Catering of Long Branch provided the salads. Shore Community Land Trust made a sizeable donation toward the food expenses. And Rabbi Steve Gold’s Beth Am Shalom Reform Jewish Congregation, Lakewood, through Yussi’s Deli and Takeout, provided 38 kosher meals.
Jim White and the Forked River Presbyterian Church provided the three portable loos.
The League of Women Voters conducted a voter registration drive. I have not gotten any numbers from them yet.
We had to change the way we presented the seminars, and thanks to Joan Finn, Rosemary Goebel and Pam Qatse for altering the schedule, then convincing me it was the right thing to do. It took a few minutes to change my heard-headed insistence on maintaining the proposed format to accepting the change. They proved to be right. I apologize if I was rude during that decision-making process.
We had great speakers during the rally. Joseph Freeman and Laura Quinonis spoke of their personal experiences as homeless people dealing with their own personal demons. Steve Nagel, Bridget Kennedy and Mary Ann Allacci told about the successes their groups have had in working with the homeless. John Kane and Pam Qatse told of opportunities that are available to people who want to help out.
We enjoyed great weather throughout the rally. That is until a thunderstorm swept through. It was a mixed blessing, though. All concerns I had about closing the rally were washed away by that storm.
It was a great day but I also know there are things that could have been done better, and I would appreciate it if you would comment on both the good and the bad. I may incorporate those responses in my final report.
Thanks again for all your help.
Photos from the rally will be posted for viewing shortly. Keep an eye out on the blog (http://ochomeless.blogspot.com) for updates.