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Making christmas

Charity collection drive helps victims of domestic violence

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December 16th, 2014
Gloria McCormick and Cathy Matich organized a collection drive for Strengthen Our Sisters at Cedar Crest, the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., where they live.
Gloria McCormick and Cathy Matich organized a coll

For the past few years, Cathy Matich has collected Christmas gifts for women and children in need. But she collects few toys. 

“They ask for underwear,” she says. “That speaks volumes of the need.”

Cathy leads a collection at Crest, the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., where she lives, for Strengthen Our Sisters. The West Milford-based nonprofit shelter community serves survivors of domestic violence and other women and children in need.

“The reason we do it is because there’s so much need,” Cathy says. 

Cathy, along with neighbor Gloria McCormick, organized the collection. They started planning in August, using Cedar Crest’s monthly newsletter, Mountain Matters; it’s in-house TV station; and clubhouse bulletin boards to spread the word.

“I consider myself Cathy’s helper,” says Gloria, a seasoned philanthropist and former special education teacher. “She bounces ideas off of me, and I help her. We’re both really excited about it and think it’s going to work out really well.”

“This idea was brought to us by two residents who are very passionate about the organization,” says Resident Life Manager Erica Zayat.

Spreading the word

Philanthropy Coordinator Lauren Corrente says Strengthen Our Sisters supplies a list of items that the children and mothers need during the holidays. Corrente, Cathy, and Gloria list the items on tags placed on Christmas trees in Cedar Crest’s three clubhouse lobbies. Residents can pull off a tag, purchase the item, and drop it off to a location around campus.

“Our residents have a few weeks to purchase the items for the children and mothers. Cedar Crest has done this same type of drive before in past years while supporting the Salvation Army,” Corrente says.

“It makes my Christmas to do for these kids,” Cathy says. “I don’t have any kids or grandkids, and I think there are a lot of people at Cedar Crest who are like me. It makes our Christmas.”

More time for making a difference

Cathy says that since moving to Cedar Crest last year, this is the first opportunity she’s had to help people in need in such an impactful way. Though she participated in a women’s group and shopped for people who could no longer drive, “Now that I don’t have a house to take care of, I have more time,” she says. 

“The slogan [for Cedar Crest] is ‘carefree living,’ and I really do have that,” Cathy says. “I don’t have to go out and shovel snow or worry about that. I can use my time how I want.”

Corrente agrees. “People who live at Cedar Crest not only tend to be very giving people, they have the time to devote to causes they are passionate about,” she says. “The worry-free lifestyle Cedar Crest provides allows them to be dedicated to things they never had time for before—whether it was because of their career or because of home maintenance. It’s really a beautiful thing.”

“I think that spirit of giving really spreads throughout the community. People often comment that one of the best things about Cedar Crest is the people, and that’s so true!” Zayat says. “We have such amazing, friendly, giving people who live here, and that truly enhances the mood and atmosphere around campus.”

About Strengthen Our Sisters

Founded in 1987 by Sandra Ramos, who founded the first shelter for battered women in North America, Strengthen Our Sisters helps homeless women and victims of domestic violence and their dependent children. 

The organization provides food, shelter, clothing, legal and supportive services, child care, and job training. Women participate in workshops on parenting skills, communication skills, self-esteem, stress management, and self help. They can also take classes in computer skills and GED preparation. 

According to the Strengthen Our Sisters website, “The women are supported in their goals toward furthering their education, developing skills, a sense of empowerment, and a positive self image.”

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