NEW BRUNSWICK – In recognition of their significant contributions to disaster recovery and relief efforts in the Middlesex County-area following Superstorm Sandy, a parish and a securities services company will be honored at the diocese’s 29th Annual Flame of Charity Dinner Oct. 24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Our Lady of Victories Parish, Sayreville, under the leadership of its pastor, Father Thomas F. Ryan, will receive the Community Servant Award.
Brian J. Kelly, president, and Dennis M. Kelly, chief executive officer of South Amboy-based APG Security LLC, will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Proceeds from the Flame of Charity Dinner support the social service programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen. In 2012, the proceeds helped Catholic Charities provide 113 programs at 21 sites where more than 50,000 people in the counties in the diocese – Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon and Warren — and beyond were served regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
“When Superstorm Sandy struck our area last year, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen, members of Our Lady of Victories Parish and APG Securities’ executive team quickly mobilized to help those most impacted by the disaster,” said Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski. “The Flame of Charity Dinner provides an opportunity to honor and thank these first responders and to support the many programs and services of Catholic Charities, which help our brothers and sisters who are in most need – not only in times of disaster, but every day of the year.”
When Superstorm Sandy reached New Jersey last October, Sayreville was among the hardest hit areas in Middlesex County. During this time, members of Our Lady of Victories Parish quickly prepared for and responded to meet the needs of the greater community.
In the wake of severe flooding that displaced borough residents, many parishioners sprang into action to assist those staying at the Sayreville Senior Center, which served as a temporary shelter. Quickly realizing the need for a place to keep the steady stream of donated items that were coming in, the parish opened its doors and transformed its Msgr. Dalton Hall into a regional collection and distribution site, using the building to store and provide various items such as food, clothing, books, toys and furniture. Parishioners solicited, transported, sorted items and took turns staffing the site during the drop-off and pick-up hours.
The word about Our Lady of Victories’ good will spread quickly and residents impacted by the storm came to the parish center for help. In some instances, volunteers delivered supplies to the victim’s homes. These efforts were complemented by the assistance of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen, and Catholic Charities USA. Today, parishioners of Our Lady of Victories continue to respond to the needs of the families whose lives were forever changed by Superstorm Sandy.
Our Lady of Victories Parish offers many ministries, including faith formation for the youth through a parish school and religious education as well as works of charity through its Society of St. Vincent DePaul conference.
While growing up, Father Ryan was a member of St. James Parish, Basking Ridge. He was ordained to the priesthood May 22, 1993, at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, by Bishop Edward T. Hughes.
Almost all of Father Ryan’s parish assignments have been in Middlesex County, including 13 years in Perth Amboy where he served as dean and in multi parish pastorates. He has served as pastor of Our Lady of Victories since November 2009.
Father Ryan also serves as chaplain of the Perth Amboy Fire Department and the NJ State Exempts since 2005.
Father Ryan assisted the coordinated efforts in response to Superstorm Sandy in Sayreville, working with community leaders and representatives of the offices of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen, and Catholic Charities USA.
Father Ryan is scheduled to attend training in the Applied Institute for Disaster Excellence to be presented by Catholic Charities USA.
In the days leading up to what became the second-costliest storm in United States history, APG Security executives Dennis and Brian deployed an exclusive team of security, safety and emergency preparedness professionals to help area residents and businesses prepare for the worst.
In the storm’s aftermath, the APG executives helped establish an emergency shelter, which was housed in the diocese’s St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, Piscataway, for patients, visitors and staff of St. Peter’s University Hospital, New Brunswick. They also oversaw the Catholic healthcare system’s Incident Command Center for two weeks, providing nearly 4,000 additional hours of emergency staffing that was needed to keep things up-and-running.
To prevent the hospital from being overburdened and to help meet the needs of many area residents who were unable to return to their homes because of power outages or damages, APG executives worked with Middlesex County Emergency Management to help place people in temporary shelters and to staff the shelters.
“We had a lot of people that were counting on us and looking to us for help. The police were tied up, so we were getting inundated with requests,” said Dennis. “Many of our clients are in residential communities along the Hudson [River], where people were evacuated or trapped, so it was a huge undertaking.”
At the same time, the Kelly’s continued to respond to the various needs of area storm victims and contributed generously to fund recovery efforts in South Amboy, where their business is headquartered. They delivered pallets of bottled water to St. Peter’s University Hospital and the emergency shelter at the pastoral center; drove to Rhode Island in the middle of the night to secure additional emergency generators and 50 gallons of gasoline; and even provided transportation to individuals who had lost their cars because of flooding.
Reflecting on the overall experience of being involved with Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts, Dennis recalled “the devastation and the pain” that he saw people go through.
“Some people complained that they lost power,” he said, “while others lost everything.
“We take a lot of things for granted in life and, then, when you see people when their lives are turned upside down you have to be a good person…you’ve got to step up and help them. When these things happen, you do what you’ve got to do – and we tried to help wherever we could.”
Dennis and his wife, Patricia, live in Colts Neck, where they are communicants of St. Mary Parish. They have two sons and a daughter – Dennis Jr. is a captain in the U.S. Army and is stationed in Texas; Patrick is a police officer in South Amboy; and Ciara is a college student.
Brian lives in South Amboy, where he worships at St. Mary Parish. He enjoys spending time with his longtime companion, Alana.
The ‘Flame of Charity’ dinner is co-chaired by Susan A. Feeney of McCarter & English, LLP and a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Skillman and John G. Nolan, Jr., a member of St. Helena Parish, Edison. Other committee members include: William R. Chess; Michael R Cioffi; Rev. Msgr. Sylvester J. Cronin; John P. Dowd; Deacon Anthony J. Gostkowski; Luis A. Hernandez; John A. Hoffman, Esq.; Joseph and Geri Kabara; Kathy Rich; Alphonse Rispoli; Ivis Rosa; Paul J. St. Onge, Esq.; Barry J. Wiegmann, CCR; Craig and Panita Yetsko; Michael and Teri Yetsko; and Ana Maria Zevallos/Skrocki.
Tickets are $200 per person. A variety of opportunities exist for sponsors, underwriters and advertisers. For more information on attending and supporting this event, contact the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development at (732) 562-2438, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.diometuchen.org/flame-of-charity-dinner
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