Helping needy kids and adults in Hoboken

Local not-for-profit to host third annual fundraising gala

After-school programs, transportation for senior citizens, professional development courses, family game night, and income tax assistance for the needy. The Hoboken Organization Against Poverty and Economic Stress (HOPES) has been providing the local community with diverse services for more than 50 years, some of which come from government funding, others of which are aided by donations.
The local not-for-profit currently sits at the former Rue School building at 301 Garden St. with a mission is to provide necessary community services to help individuals overcome poverty through all stages of life.
Last year the organization helped 1,462 people file tax returns, provided adult educational programs for over 340 people, helped 556 people obtain insurance during open enrollment periods, assisted 1,174 people receive cancer education and early referrals, provide 2,272 trips to senior citizens for essential appointments, and much more.

“Think about this for one minute; how can you help, what do you do, or who do you know?“ – Lori Heidenry
HOPES is among the contracted providers of the state-mandated free preschool programs paid for through the Board of Education, and provides aftercare service partly paid by government funding and by tuition from parents who can afford it.
Ora Welch, CEO and president of the organization, said this year’s annual fundraising gala in October will help fund afterschool and summer programs for children. Parents at different levels of need pay varying amounts so their children can stay in aftercare or camp while they work.
The major fundraising event for the organization is their annual gala, which reaches its third year this Oct 20. Those who attended last year’s gala may remember dressing up in costumes for the roaring ’20s themed event with a 10-piece band, catered food, silent auction, and dancing.
This year attendees won’t see the phantoms of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby roaming the floors of the Rue gymnasium, as the organization has opted for a more autumnal theme: “fall in love with HOPES.”
CFO and Vice-president Simona Ovanezian said they received some negative feedback from the community about the previous theme so they opted for a different direction. “Some of the response we got last time is that more people may have come if they didn’t have to dress up,” said Ovanezian.
Welch noted, “It’s right after the work day, so we don’t want people going home to change because then they might not come.”
Ovanezian said that last year, the gala raised roughly $40,000, a significant increase from the previous year which raised roughly $7,000. She said that year, there were conflicts with other events.
Welch said that their annual Gala will always be the third Thursday of the month of October.
This year the non-for profit hopes to raise even more than last year, even though they have fewer sponsors this year.
Volunteer Lori Heidenry said that she expects this to change as she is still waiting to hear back from a few businesses. Businesses already supporting this year’s gala include BCB, BCG Advisors, Lakeshore Learning, Cigna, Liberty Realty, Minervini Vandermark Architecture, Ace Endico, Robert Matule, and Clifton Savings Banks or CSBK.
She added that a few of local restaurants will provide food and drink for the attendees, including Leo’s Grandevous, 1 Republik, Village Pourhouse, Frankie and Ava’s, Madison Bar and Grill, Grand Vin, Jack’s Cabin, Jack & Co, The Dubliner, Acme Shoprite, Grand Vin, Amanda’s, The Green Rock Tap & Grill, and Sweetwater Brewery beer, and Devotion vodka for cocktails. While menus have not been finalized, said Heidenry, there could be blood orange cocktails and perhaps pumpkin gnocchi from Leo’s, in keeping with the fall theme.
HOPES is still looking for donations for the evening’s silent auction as well as monetary donations to the organization.
Heidenry said, “Many people don’t realize how much they can help.”
Heidenry asks the public to “Think about this for one minute; how can you help, what do you do, or who do you know?“
There are ways to help besides donating money. “Dads through their companies have access to box seats to the Devils game or Jets tickets or Giants tickets, but they would never think to donate it to HOPES,” said Heidenry.
Past auction items have included pool passes, restaurant gift certificates, spa treatments, and beauty products.
The “Fall in love with HOPES Gala” will have a raffle, a DJ, dancing, a silent auction, dinner and cocktails, and a photo booth for guests to enjoy.
Tickets cost $100 up until Oct. 11 then increase to $115 until Oct 20, when the ticket price increases to $125 per person. Tickets are available for purchase online at the organization’s website at or call 1800-OK-HOPES Ext.1022
Raffle tickets are already available for purchase, according to Ovanezian, and will be sold at the upcoming Family Game Night Sept 29 at 5:30 p.m. as well as during the gala.
The gala takes place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a special VIP hour beginning at 6 p.m. for sponsors of the evening.
Heidenry urges residents to contact her if they wish to donate or sponsor the event at

Marilyn Baer can be reached at

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group