The Community Chest: Bolstering the communities of eastern Bergen County

By ROI-NJ Staff
Bergen County | Oct 18, 2018 at 7:05 am
Nonprofit Profile

Origin

The Community Chest was founded in 1933 at the initiation of the mayor of Englewood during the Great Depression. Concerned about the economic and social well-being of the citizens of Englewood, the mayor asked the city’s most prominent citizen and philanthropist, Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, wife of the late U.S. Sen. Dwight Morrow and president of Smith College, to serve as the first volunteer leader of the organization. Morrow recruited 450 residents to go door to door to Englewood residents’ homes asking them to collect funds for local neighbors. This campaign raised $116,000 at a time of great economic hardship, reflecting the generous and caring spirit of the Englewood’s residents. From 1933 through 2017, The Community Chest has raised over $11 million (valued at $62 million when adjusted for inflation) that has been granted to local nonprofits to help residents in need.

Mission

Lead initiatives and support nonprofits that make communities stronger and benefit people in need in eastern Bergen County.

Goals

  • Increase our visibility in our expanded service area;
  • Bring organizations and volunteers together to help with projects such as the Partnership for Healthy Eating;
  • Expand our Community Education Program;
  • Recruit volunteers to assist with new program initiatives.

Programs

  • Professional Development: This series of classes, provided in partnership with Rutgers University Department of Continuing Education, School of Social Work, is offered annually for middle managers working in local nonprofits. The topics are selected by the leadership of the local agencies to ensure they are responding to the most pressing needs of the organizations. Occasionally, additional classes are added on topics considered important to the practice of nonprofits. 
  • Community Education: Each year, The Community Chest offers at least one program to the community on a topic related to philanthropy/charitable investments. Philanthropy education classes are offered to elementary and middle school children through the programming provided by local nonprofits.
  • Partnership for Healthy Eating: Initiated in 2018 by The Community Chest and comprised of representatives of the local food pantries, Englewood Hospital staff and members of the Age Friendly Englewood Coalition, as well as volunteers, concerned about the health of local low-income residents. The project provides a free dinner program to local residents, referred by the food pantries and local religious congregations, where they will be shown how to prepare healthy dinners and will be offered nutritional consultation by dieticians/nutritionists from Englewood Hospital. Ten dinners will be held throughout the year. 

Achievements

The Community Chest celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2018. The goal of the anniversary year activities was to celebrate the work of The Community Chest since its founding and to do so by recognizing the leadership and talents of local citizens and showcasing it in various public forums.

This celebration included two successful fundraising events as well as two additional programs benefiting the community: one art exhibit, offered in partnership with Bergen PAC, featured local artists giving free art classes offered to local New Jersey schools. In addition, The Chest held a historical exhibit, located at the Englewood Public Library, during the month of September, in partnership with the Englewood Historical Society, displaying the history of The Community Chest.

The fundraising events recognized the charitable work of local philanthropists, Richard and Swati Engel, Connect One Bank and the Rotary Club of Englewood. Other charitable leaders who participated in the growth of The Community Chest over its history, were featured in a video shown at one of the events.  

Fundraising

Our fundraising goal for this year is $350,000. We are constantly confronted with new needs in our communities, and are eager to address them as soon as possible. This requires that we reach new individuals and businesses to tell them about our work and encourage them to support it. Our Annual Campaign began Oct. 1, and runs throughout the year.

Benefactors 

Donors of $5,000 or more:

  • Connect One Bank;
  • Richard and Swati Engel;
  • Kamson Corp.;
  • Palestroni Foundation;
  • Robert Wilkens Insurance.

Finally

The board of managers voted to expand our service area beyond Englewood, Englewood Cliffs and Tenafly to include the rest of northeastern Bergen County. The area now includes a total of 15 towns. We will be expanding our reach into these towns over the next two years, introducing them to The Chest’s work and encouraging them to join us. 

Conversation Starter

Contact Shelly Wimpfheimer, executive director, at: shelly@communitychestofenglewood.org or 201-568-7474.

ROI-NJ Staff | editorial@roi-nj.com | @ROINJNews