During the three years since Superstorm Sandy, A Future With Hope has learned that partnerships are the key to recovery. Few partners, however, bring their own mascot.
Buster the BlueClaw was on hand on Wednesday, Dec. 9, as staff members from the Lakewood BlueClaws joined A Future With Hope for a day of service helping rebuild a home in the Belford section of Middletown.
Jim DeAngelis, Vice President of Community Relations, helped arrange the day and shared his own recovery story as the BlueClaws staff of 20 were grading the outside of the Belford home.
“I live in Seaside and my house was also affected by Sandy,” he said. “I was amazed at the volunteers who came immediately after the storm to help. There is still so much need and most people in the area don’t realize it. We are happy to be a partner and volunteer with A Future With Hope.
“The BlueClaws have a wonderful staff. My staff should be at the office, but instead they are here giving their blood, sweat and tears.”
A Future With Hope first partnered with the BlueClaws this summer when they sponsored a baseball game to help raise awareness of the continuing needs of people who had suffered loss from Sandy. Volunteer teams from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as well as United Methodists from around New Jersey joined A Future With Hope during the game. Staff members gave out information at booths and A Future With Hope videos played on the big screen. Even John Schol, the Bishop of the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey which founded A Future With Hope, threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game.
Kevin Fenstermacher, Director of Group Sales for the BlueClaws, says this kind of work is one of the reasons he loves working for the minor league baseball team.
“This is the reason why the BlueClaws are successful,” Fenstermacher said. “We are out supporting people. These are the same people who come out for us. This is our community.”
One of the unexpected surprises of the day was when the homeowner stopped by to visit the team. “When you aren’t doing this work every day, it is special to meet someone who has been so impacted,” Fenstermacher said. “Meeting him put a face to Sandy recovery.”
A Future With Hope is one of the most robust Sandy recovery organizations working in New Jersey. Through November, it has completed rebuilding 196 homes with the support of more than 10,000 volunteers. An arm of the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey, A Future With Hope has a goal of rebuilding more than 300 homes and has received widespread support from organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, the Robin Hood Foundation and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, among others.
As a BlueClaws Charities Community Partner, A Future With Hope also received a $1,500 grant from the organization.
“The BlueClaws raise money throughout the year with events like golf outings, bowling days and celebrity waiter evenings at local restaurants,” DeAngelis said. “Every year, we give back to our community partners.”
To find out more about A Future With Hope, go to www.afuturewithhope.org or contact their help hotline at 732-359-1012.