Newark Nonprofit Honors ‘Unsung Heroes’ of the Pandemic

‘La Casa en Su Casa’ wine and cheese event June 17 will recognize the many essential workers in New Jersey’s largest city

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La Casa de Don Pedro's interactive virtual fundraiser will honor the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic – including essential workers for local banks, restaurants, nonprofits, hospitals and medical facilities. (Photo courtesy of La Casa de Don Pedro.)

NEWARK, N.J. – Newark-based nonprofit, La Casa de Don Pedro, a leader in social services and community development efforts, is hosting an interactive virtual fundraiser on June 17 at 5:30 p.m., titled “La Casa en Su Casa.” With a program theme of “Silver Linings,” the evening will honor the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic – including essential workers for local banks, restaurants, nonprofits, hospitals and medical facilities.

“La Casa en Su Casa” will also feature guest speakers, including Casa d’Paco owner Angel Leston and artist Marcy DePina, a spoken word performance by Shell Spin, video segments and a special wine and cheese tasting from Newark’s own Casa d’Paco.

“This past year has been like no other, but stories that demonstrate people going above and beyond have shined through the darkness,” said Carrie Puglisi, director of program and fund development for La Casa de Don Pedro. “During our ‘Silver Linings’ program we’ll spotlight workers who have been vital to our city these past 14 months, yet often go unrecognized.”

Essential workers to be honored include team members from Valley Bank’s Newark branches and the restaurant workers of Newark Working Kitchens, a program that has re-energized the hard-hit Newark restaurant industry to provide free meals to food insecure residents.

Admission for the “La Casa en Su Casa” event is free and attendees can purchase bottles of Spanish wine paired with Spanish cheeses (free delivery for in-county residents if purchased by June 6). (Photo courtesy of La Casa de Don Pedro.)

La Casa de Don Pedro will also honor workers from Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health (RWJBH) Clara Maass Medical Center, RWJBH Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

Counted among those to be honored are the essential workers of La Casa de Don Pedro, with a special focus on La Casa’s in-person childcare program and its community engagement efforts that have helped keep the city connected with essential services and support. Despite the overwhelming impact of the pandemic, the organization’s community engagement team continues to connect residents to critical resources, including food, personal protective equipment, rental relief and small business support.

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Admission is free and attendees can purchase bottles of Spanish wine paired with Spanish cheeses (free delivery for in-county residents if purchased by June 6). The wine will be curated by renowned sommelier, Hank Zona, who will discuss the evening’s wine selection from Casa d’Paco’s own label. The Spanish restaurant, located in Newark’s Ironbound section, is owned by Angel Leston, who will also speak during the virtual event.

“I am excited to be able to add La Casa de Don Pedro to the list of the many organizations I support that do such important work in our communities. That they themselves have chosen this event to honor community members – Newark’s unsung heroes during the pandemic – speaks volumes of their role in the city’s landscape,” said Zona.

He added: “Speaking of the city’s landscape, I get to once again collaborate with my friend, a prominent face in the community himself, Angel Leston, owner of the acclaimed and popular Casa d’Paco. We will co-host the event from his restaurant in the heart of the Ironbound, which seems appropriate for this event since Newark is a city made up of communities and neighborhoods.”

“Being born and raised in Newark, I believe what’s most special about our city is what I value most – family and community – and it’s evident throughout the diversity of our neighborhoods,” added Leston. “I’m honored to host La Casa de Don Pedro’s event at Casa d’Paco, which we built on the values of family and community and where we get to showcase the best of the city to not just Newark residents, but visitors as well. Not only will we get to share those stories, but also share some wine and cheese with my friend Hank Zona and all of you.”

The “La Casa en Su Casa” will also feature guest speakers and performers, including Shelly Spinelli. Shell Spin (pictured here) is a spoken work artist, activist and DJ born and raised in New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of La Casa de Don Pedro.)

Event speakers will include Marcy DePina, Newark artist, DJ, executive director and producer, as well as poet and artist Shell Spin, who will perform an exclusive poem about life during the pandemic.

“I’m excited to be participating in this event that will highlight notable artists in the community, like Shell Spin,” says DePina. “Poetry provides a creative way for people to share their life experiences that resonates with everyone.”

To pair with the wine, attendees can also purchase a hand-selected assortment of Spanish artisanal cheeses and charcuterie from Maplewood Wheelhouse’s Aaron Kirtz.

Confirmed sponsors as of June 1 are: Prudential Financial, Valley Bank, M&T Bank, Valley Bank, RWJBarnabas Health Clara Maass Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Thornton Agency, Capacity Benefits & Financial Services, Horizon NJHealth, McCarter & English, LLP, NeighborWorks America, Rutgers University – Newark, JW Pierson, Shoprite of Newark, Leviticus Fund, Security On Point, NJ Community Capital, Mayuri Chandra, Bill & Nancy Griffeth, Dawn Gammon, Gayle Griffin, NJ Citizen Action, Deborah Purdon, Richard Roper, and Grizel Ubarry.

La Casa also welcomes additional corporate sponsors for the June event. Tickets for the virtual fundraiser can be accessed here: www.lacasanwk.org.

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SOURCECarrie Puglisi, Director of Program and Fund Development for La Casa de Don Pedro
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Dan has a knack for in-depth news coverage and storytelling and comes from a journalistic and creative background. He is a former staff writer and critic for the New York Daily News, where he covered entertainment, politics, lifestyle and hard news. He is also the former editor of the Cyber Security Hub, a B2B media site covering the enterprise security vertical. Dan holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, where he focused in historical fiction. He also holds a BA in Communication (Journalism/Public Relations) and a Minor in History from Monmouth University. He has also worked as a municipal reporter and freelance writer/critic for numerous outlets, including NorthJersey.com, The Cheat Sheet, Critical Movie Critics and more.