“When we shared the first request to help our Newburgh neighbors after May 15thtornado, we knew our community would be supportive, but the care and compassion that we saw from everyone truly was overwhelming,” said Jeannie Montano, President & CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region “Immediately after we circulated an email and shared the request on social media, people contacted us with monetary and merchandise donations. We did this knowing that with our deep ties to the community that date back 80 years, our current work coordinating the Newburgh Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI), and our key relationships with nonprofits, that we’d be able quickly determine what was needed most, and with your help, meet that need of those affected by the tornado.”
The impact of May 15th tornado in Newburgh cannot be minimized. Two lives were lost. Businesses and homes were severely damaged. But throughout everything, the people of Newburgh came together to support one another. Restaurants emptied their refrigerators and freezers for the citizen-led Liberty Street BBQ. Melanie of Newburgh’s Blacc Vanilla coffee shop also kept a grill going until power was restored and continues to serve as a location to distribute bags of donated food and necessities to the community. Many nonprofits, including the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, Newburgh Ministry, RECAP and Safe Homes, opened their doors, with some serving as shelters, others sources of food and, quite importantly, places to recharge cell phones so people could let others know they were okay.
”Several businesses, including Lori Buhagiar’s Middletown Allstate Office, Newburgh Brewing Company, Rhinebeck Bank and Ulster Savings Bank) immediately offered to serve as locations throughout our area to drop off donations of merchandise. In addition, Paul Halayko, owner of Newburgh Brewing Company, offered to run a benefit on May 23rdwith all proceeds from the evening going to support the effort,” explained Jeannie Montano. “United Was immediately was able to get the donations into the hands of the agencies and people who needed them most. Monetary donations were used to shop for specific items that agencies, food pantries and soup kitchens told us were most needed as their stock was depleted. We are continuing to provide goods to our community partners.”
The value of the goods and services that were donated by individuals and organizations running special drives was valued at almost $6,200, including a generous donation from Walmart Newburgh and MVP Health Care. Individuals donated over $7,700 and the benefit at Newburgh raised over $7,800. All together, as of today, the supply drive to help our Newburgh neighbors raised $21,695 with 100% of all dontations going to this effort.
“Even though power was restored, many people who had to empty their refrigerators and freezers could not afford to restock them and still needed help,” explained Rae Leiner, Director of United Way’s Anti-Poverty Initiative that oversees the ESPRI Newburgh program. “Soup kitchens and food pantries exhausted their supplies immediately after the tornado and desperately needed to be restocked. When we brought food and necessities to Safe Homes of Orange Counties’ Family Justice Center in Newburgh the Friday following the tornado, the shelves of their pantry were bare, but were filled thanks to the generosity of our community. We’ve been in contact with programs and agencies that serve the people of Newburgh and, thanks to your help, United Way will continue to provide the essentials that they need now to continue their work in support of our Newburgh neighbors.”
The May 23rdbenefit at Newburgh Brewing Company (NBC) brought out hundreds of people who enjoyed a fun evening while supporting Newburgh neighbors. Paul Halayko donated all proceeds from taproom sales to the supply drive. In addition, Mixture Prints donated #NewburghStrong t-shirts with all sales going to the drive and Craft Beer Guild Distributing of New York donated door prizes.
Paul explained that, “Here at the brewery, we were extraordinarily fortunate to have escaped damage in the wake of the tornado. But we know that many of our friends, colleagues and neighbors were not so lucky. By donating all of our taproom sales on May 23rdto United Way, we know that they’ll put the funds to good use in helping get the City of Newburgh back on it's feet.”
United Way is continuing to distribute items to locations serving the people of Newburgh, including Blacc Vanilla, Christ Lutheran Church Baby Pantry, Loaves & Fishes, Newburgh Tabernacle, Newburgh Ministry, RECAP, St. George's Food Pantry, St. Mary’s Pantry, St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen, Youth Advocate Programs, among others.
“As with the supply drive following Hurricane Harvey, United Way was able to act quickly and deliver support to the people impacted by the crisis through agencies and programs that serve them directly,” Jeannie Montano explained. “By requesting, collection, processing and then distributing 100% of the donations, we were able to help our partners continue their work uninterrupted. These two drives truly show what is possible when we ‘Live United.’”
For more information about United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region and its work in the community, go to www.uwdor.orgor call 845-471-1900.