ProudLiving Companies, a New Jersey-based real estate company with a mission of long-term neighborhood revitalization, has partnered with three Essex County municipalities to distribute school supplies to area students. The company is working alongside the Cities of Orange, East Orange and Irvington, NJ, plus various community groups, for a “backpack” giveaway prior to the start of the school year. ProudLiving funded the cost of approximately 1,000 backpacks for the cause.
According to ProudLiving President and Founder TJ Caleca, the back-to-school initiative is just one component of the company’s dedication to its communities, where it serves as a contractor, developer, realtor and community partner.
“These particular Essex County real estate markets are experiencing many of the early growth signs seen in previously underdeveloped areas,” Caleca noted. “When I was starting out in my early 20s, these were the only areas that I could afford to buy in, but over the last nine years, there’s been a mutual embrace, and currently there’s no place ProudLiving would rather be.”
He continued: “With that said, it is our responsibility to not only invest in and develop the assets within a given community, but to have an equal commitment in the development and ultimate trajectory of the people within the community. From our perspective, the people are the only asset that truly matters.”
Commenting on the giveaway, East Orange, NJ Mayor Ted R. Green noted: “The city is thrilled to partner with ProudLiving to distribute bookbags and school supplies that will ensure our young people start off the new school year prepared, focused and ready to learn.”
Green’s city hosted the third school-supply event on Aug. 31. He added, “It takes a village to raise a child and this partnership with ProudLiving demonstrates our continuous, collaborative commitment to uplifting youth in our community.”
The first event, labeled the “Back to School Bash,” was held on Aug. 23 at 346 16th Ave. in Irvington, NJ ProudLiving partnered with Irvington and its Neighborhood Improvement Corporation for the afternoon event, filled with snacks, drinks, hamburgers and hotdogs. Students accompanied by a parent with residency certification qualified for a free backpack and other supplies.
The next day, ProudLiving and its partners oversaw “Operation Back to School” at the Central Playground in Orange. The event included free backpacks, school supplies, swimming, food and drinks, music, face painting, games, dancing and more. Orange, NJ Mayor Dwayne D. Warren, Esq., oversaw the event, noting that the giveaway helps “promote a sense of community and relief for both young students and their busy families.”
Warren noted that the celebration is a “wonderful way to ensure students and families are properly equipped for the school year,” and thanked the day’s sponsors, including Michelle’s Foundation, ProudLiving Companies, Orange Police Department, Orange Fire Department, RoadBlock Radio, Purpose Pushers, JM Tutors, Shauger Group, Suez Water and Cotton Funeral Home.
ProudLiving’s third stop was Memorial Park in East Orange over Labor Day weekend. The event ran from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Aug. 31.
ProudLiving’s ongoing charitable activity focuses on education, children and the elderly. The company distributes turkeys on Thanksgiving to families in need, holds an annual “ProudGiving” Holiday Coat and Toy Drive, serves as a sponsor for the ProudLiving Communities Stingers, a youth basketball team in Orange, serves as a strategic partner for the East Orange YMCA and its “ProudSwimming” program teaching local youths how to swim and has a scholarship program with Bloomfield College called “Pay It Forward.”