400 adults and babies got food, supplies

Local charity seeks donations for needy people; next event Sept. 17

A few years ago, Tania Fuentes and Jenice Durham read a statistic from the New Jersey Poverty Research Institute saying one out of every five families in the Garden State does not earn enough money to afford the basic necessities. Also, 23 percent of children live below the poverty line In Hudson County.
They wanted to help, specifically in West New York and surrounding areas. In 2008 Fuentes founded The Dvine Konektion Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization based in West New York, serving families in that town as well as North Bergen, Union City, Weehawken, and Guttenberg.

“See the need, meet the need.” – Jenice Durham
Fuentes is the founder and Durham is the director. Every third Saturday of the month they organize a community outreach day. They offer a food pantry, baby pantry, and also partner with other local non-profits, state agencies, and businesses to provide services to those in need.

Community Outreach Day

On Aug. 20 the group held its monthly Community Outreach Day at 5516 Jefferson St. in West New York. It was attended by almost 400 people in need. Each family that attended the event received bags of groceries. Those with school-aged children or babies also received items such as school supplies, diapers, and wipes.
Agencies such as HealthFirst NJ, NJ Families First, and the International Institute of New Jersey offered information about Medicare, free health insurance benefits for children and low-income families, and immigration assistance.
Free medical screenings were also available during the day. The North Hudson Community Action Corporation – a health care agency for local needy people – supplied free diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings. The Congressional Glaucoma Caucus Foundation gave free vision exams and glaucoma tests. The Community Blood Bank was onsite and registered people to give blood.
Dvine Konektion will be having its next Community Outreach Day on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If they continue to raise enough funds, they are hoping to have these events twice a month during 2012.

A heart for the people

Besides founding the charity, Fuentes is also a pastor at Love of Jesus Family Church of West New York. “We are supposed to show love to people,” said Durham about giving as part of being a Christian. She remembers a man that attended the last event mentioning that is harder for man to receive because “they have to provide for the family.” She said Dvine Konektion works for people like him and everyone in need because they are “like a family.”
If people come looking for other type of assistance that Dvine Konektion does not provide, such as issues related to immigration, autism, or specific medical services, the charity can refer them to 30 to 40 different organizations. “[We] see the need, meet the need,” said Durham.

The process of fundraising

“Fundraising is the challenging part of it,” said Durham; “You have to be very persistent.” She sometimes calls different organizations between 5 to 10 times to ask for help.
“We have gratitude for all our volunteers who come out and serve,” she said. “They could be at the beach and instead they decide to show love.”
Durham recalled the general manager of the restaurant Olive Garden, who came with a team to help at one of their events with food to serve. “They served big portions,” she said.
Other general managers from different restaurants, aside from bringing food, also provide condiments like ketchup, salt, and pepper. Other people come and donate blood.
“Little mom-and-pop shops sometimes donate and work harder than the large corporations,” Durham said.
Speaking about West New York government, she said, “The new mayor and Commissioner Frias have been very supportive.”

How to help

The organization does not have a formal staff but works with volunteers. There are many ways to give.
People who want to make a donation can contact Jenice Durham at 201-617-4484. There is also a PayPal link on their website www.dvinek.org were there is more information about their organization.
They also receive food and new and used (in good condition) clothes.
People who want to volunteer can come to the organization to take inventory of the items received for their food pantry. Volunteers also pack bags of groceries. Some people provide contacts at different organizations and restaurants that might be willing to donate. Others can help with administrative support with their database and making phone calls. During their events, volunteers help by serving food, and registering people.
“Word is getting out,” Durham said. “People hear about our work and they are willing to help.”


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