Tuesday night the Hoboken Rotary hosted a benefit party with over 500 guests and raised almost $25,000 for the Hoboken Charter School. The school will use the money for repairs after a recent fire damaged its building and displaced over 190 students.
Rotarian and local clothing store owner Rory Chadwick led the Rotary's effort to organize the party, including securing a venue, gathering raffle and auction prizes, inviting guests and other arrangements. Previously Chadwick organized benefit parties after separate fires displaced the residents of 87 Jackson Street and 300 Washington Street.
The school at 713 Washington Street is across from Chadwick's store. "I looked out my window and saw the school on fire, and it looked bad,” Chadwick said. “When I found out the inside was ruined I called my fellow Rotarians and got to work. It's not easy to do this in such a short amount of time but when Rotary members work as a team we can do anything."
Chadwick contacted Cory Checket, owner of the Turtle Club restaurant and bar at 936 Park Avenue, about hosting the benefit. “When the Hoboken Rotary approached us to host the fundraiser we didn’t hesitate,” Checket said. “It is truly remarkable how well Hoboken can come together to rally around a neighbor or institution in need.” The Turtle Club gave a free drink to all guests who donated a suggested $10 at the door. After hundreds of guests responded to the benefit's Facebook page, neighboring restaurant 10th & Willow also opened to accommodate the overflow.
Dozens of local businesses donated raffle and auction prizes, and posted collection jars at their respective locations. Chadwick was able to obtain several big-ticket prizes, including signed sports memorabilia from football stars Eli Manning, Ray Rice and Troy Polamalu, game tickets, artwork, theater tickets, music memorabilia and a Hudson River cruise.
Several Hoboken Rotarians contributed to the benefit, either by donating prizes or by providing support, including bar owner Joe Branco, financial planner Christopher Mackin, magazine publisher Joe Mindak, realtor Ron Zimmerman and attorneys Lisa Russo and Marie Stinson.
Hoboken Charter's Executive Director and K-8 principal Deirdra Grode said she hopes her students can learn from seeing the community come together to help. “I hope that our students see that it is possible to overcome adversity with hard work, commitment and team work,” Grode said.
The Hoboken Rotary has a standing fund to collect donations for this and other emergencies. It will continue to collect donations for the school in the coming days. “It is great to see the community come together in helping each other,” said current Hoboken Rotary president Ryan Mitchell. “This has been and will continue to be our mission, as our motto is service above self.”