Many families in Jamaica, New York, are struggling to put nutritious food on the table and pay bills. In the early 2000s, attorney Elizabeth Ozo-Onyali started to notice how her neighbors needed help. They needed HOPE. And, in 2005, Project Hope Charities was born. They provide a variety of community programs that fight hunger, help families overcome poverty, empower youth and focus on disaster relief.
“I have always been the type of person to weep when I see the news or someone who needs help. My heart just breaks and I want to do something, you know? I have always been giving to others to try to support and I knew I needed to give back more – my money was not enough. I just needed to do more,” Elizabeth says. “Someone told me that the thing that bothers you the most is your calling, and that is so true. It doesn’t solve every problem – but the little problems can be solved. It’s a project of hope.”
Our first introduction to Elizabeth and Project Hope came in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy struck New York. Project Hope requested CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for their community. “The buckets provided cleaning supplies – everything you could think of that provided help cleaning up after for the families. I tell you, those buckets were a blessing. So needed,” Elizabeth shares, “And since then, we have requested supplies from CWS each year, especially for our Back to School Event. We are just so excited and blessed every year.”
The Back to School Event is a time for families to pick up backpacks, books, CWS School Kits and two weeks’ worth of food. A medical professional comes each year to talk to children about proper hygiene. About 200-300 children participate in the Back to School Event each year. Elizabeth says that, “this event really is an entire service for the families – we get kits from CWS and then food from the local food banks, it just doubles up and the whole family is catered to. They are at peace.”
This year, the event is even more critical. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the community. “At one point, we had 700 people in line to receive food,” Elizabeth recalls. “It was a challenge, and we had extra work to do since we had to pack the food up in bags, but we are happy to help and it’s a joy to serve.” Our team was happy to help them out with 1,200 CWS School Kits, 900 Hygiene Kits and 370 Blankets.
Elizabeth shares that she is so grateful for CWS donors and supporters, “First of all, thank you for giving. There are so many lives that you don’t know, and their lives have been transformed because of your giving. This life is not for ourselves. It’s about giving to others. We are truly grateful that you are trusting us to do the right thing, and let me tell you, we are doing the right thing.”