Community Services Committee Chair Debbie Inverno received the Humanitarian Award and Local 914 was recognized with the Community Impact Business Award.
In early November, the 12th Anniversary Committee of the Vashti School of Future Leaders, a mentorship program for teens in Newark, New Jersey presented United Local Lodge 914, District 141 of the Machinists Union with the Community Impact Business Award. Debbie Inverno, Chairperson of the local’s Community Services Committee was recognized with the Humanitarian Award.
In the past year, members of United Local Lodge 914, with Debbie Inverno’s leadership, have delivered food and supplies to needy people in over a half dozen locations throughout New Jersey. Debbie was inspired by Cristina Odoardi’s appeal at the 2018 District 141 Convention to start with “one can…and keep going.”
Beginning with the first organized trip to drop off food donations at Hope House, an emergency shelter for families located a few miles from Newark Liberty Airport, Debbie would ask administrators about their immediate needs and would target collections to their requests, ensuring that every item donated would be put to use.
Debbie listened intently, and as she developed relationships with administrators of several non-profit organizations, she sought groups that served families in and around Newark. She wanted to prioritize the committee’s efforts to reach the communities where many members of the local live. While driving home one afternoon early last summer, Debbie went into the Newark YMCA and ask how Local 914 could help. Nicole Washington, Director of Youth Development, welcomed her and laid out an immediate need: The Newark YMCA houses 300 families, and many children could not enjoy the swimming pool because they did not own a bathing suit. Debbie went to work and after the next collection effort, the committee delivered bathing suits for everyone at the “Y” who needed one. Along with bathing suits, the committee collected arts and crafts supplies for the kids’ summer projects.
After several conversations and visits to drop off donations, Debbie learned about the Vashti School for Future Leaders, an after-school teen mentoring program that Nicole Washington runs with the support of the Newark YMCA. Impressed with the program’s mission, Debbie renewed her commitment to be a resource to Ms. Nicole, as she is known to the teens who take part in the program. The Vashti School’s mission “To develop model citizens and future leaders” is supported by the donations that members of Local 914 deliver every month to families who benefit from the program. The school’s announcement of the awards praised Debbie and Local 914 for being champions of “The advancement of youth and their empowerment through access to education including financial edification as a method of social change.”
District 141 Director of Community Services Cristina Odoardi joined the members of Local 914 at the awards ceremony. “Debbie Inverno and the members of Local 914 have set an example of what it means to ‘act locally.’ They work all year to address the needs they see in their community, and I am excited and proud to join them as they receive this well-deserved honor.”
“None of this would have happened without Cristina’s encouragement,” said Debbie. “All we do is facilitate our members’ donations so they get to where they are needed most.”
Lee Carpenter, Debbie’s steadfast committee partner, added: “We make donating easy for our members and they are confident that it will go to the right place. They trust us.”