By TIM KELLY
As Memorial Day weekend rolled on with visitors in town and newly opened beach and Boardwalk bustling, Ocean City was taking on a look more reminiscent of the way things were in the days before the coronavirus pandemic.
For OCNJ CARE, the nonprofit organization charged with helping local residents severely impacted by the crisis, the needs haven’t changed all that much. However, there could be a faint light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.
“We’re still delivering full dinners to folks three nights per week, and we’ll continue that through June 5,” said Drew Fasy, chairman of OCNJ CARE. “At that time, we’ll re-evaluate where we are.”
He said he hoped the need could decrease by then as more businesses reopen and people leave the ranks of the unemployed.
Fasy said OCNJ CARE has been functioning so well in terms of identifying folks severely impacted, it has increased the volume of food, toiletries and funds needed to continue helping them all.
Despite this, Fasy said the organization’s supplies were still managing to keep up with the demand.
As an example of a group stepping up, Fasy cited the town’s school district, which has been an ongoing consistent partner as the events of the crisis unfolded.
“There’s not a blueprint for (dealing with a pandemic),” said Fasy. “We’ve been learning as we’ve been going along. As the situation evolved, the school district has been there for us, and for Ocean City.”
“We started out serving some students they identified, and as we interact with them, we learn about other family members who also need help,” he added.
Fasy said the school district provided additional meals for some of those families most impacted. He called the district’s cafeteria workers “heroic” in their efforts preparing the meals and bagging them for delivery.
Ocean City restaurants have also stepped up in a big way, he said.
St. Peter’s United Methodist Church is another standout partner earning special praise from Fasy.
“They have loaned us facilities and human resources. They’ve been great throughout this entire process,” he noted.
Still, OCNJ CARE can’t help if it doesn’t know who needs help.
“People are proud, sometimes they don’t want to ask,” said Fasy. “We make it a point to be (confidential). There’s no need to open the door or to take anything directly from our volunteers. Many times, we’ll just leave the items on the doorstep or porch.”
Fasy said financial donations are always welcome as are non-perishables and necessities of living such as shampoos and soaps, laundry detergent, paper towels and toilet paper.
“These are things food stamps won’t pay for,” he said, “but they’re still things people need.”
To learn more about OCNJ CARE and to contribute or volunteer, or to reach out to learn how to access services, visit www.ocnjcare.org.
“OCNJ CARE is a coalition,” Fasy remarked. “People, organizations, civic leaders and businesses are all providing their own unique contributions. It’s really satisfying to see so many people working together to help out those less fortunate.”
“The generosity people have shown, in time, resources and money, has been outstanding. It’s great to be able to say that if somebody needs a bag of groceries, they’re going to get a bag of groceries,” he continued.