Bank Reinvests In Local Charity
The bank that provided the mortgage for the building of the Jubilee Center made a generous donation to the after school program—just like it's done for the last 8 years.
Moments earlier, the kids had taken a break from their homework to be briefed by the Rev. Geoff Curtiss on John Wessling's significance. Curtiss explained to the kids, all between about 5 and 12 years-old, that Wessling had played an instrumental role in securing the mortgage that allowed for the construction of the Jubilee Center's building on the corner of Sixth and Jackson Streets. Not only did Haven Savings loan the majority of the funds needed to construct the building, but the bank, in conjunction with Ticic, a pooled resources firm, recruited a consortium of other lenders to kick in the remainder of $1.4 million needed to finance the project.
Wessling may as well have dressed in a Santa Claus suit; he was on hand to deliver the bank's annual donation—a big check—to the Jubilee Center's program director, Craig Mainor, and Curtiss, one of the center's founders. While it wasn't one of those enormous cardboard checks typically used for photo ops, the numerical value of the check was huge: $15,000.
"Initially, we gave $10,000 and then we kicked it up to $15,000," said Wessling of the bank's eighth annual donation. All told, the bank has contributed over $100,000 to the Jubilee Center.
"It's going to a great cause," Wessling added. "It's our largest charity and it really is nice to walk into a room and see all of these children here. It looks like they're having fun."
The bank, which Wessling said opened in 1938 in a building on Newark Street across from where the Clam Broth House is situated and now has numerous locations in New Jersey, is Haven Savings' flagship branch. In 1973, Haven Savings moved to its current location at 621 Washington Street. Wessling has been working at the Hoboken branch since 1976 and became its top executive in 2002.
Wessling went on to say that the bank does a lot of community lending and has helped finance a large number of construction projects in the city. "Hoboken has treated us well and we felt that we've given back to Hoboken on projects like this," Wessling said.
For those that run the Jubilee Center—Curtiss, chairperson Donna Garban, Mainor and many dedicated others—fundraising is a ceaseless endeavor. "It's always great to have our supporters understand how important private donations to support this work is," said Curtiss, adding that he specifically invited Wessling to drop in while the children were at the center.
"It's very important for [the kids] to see the people that are making this possible. And I think we're doing more of that. We're trying to get people [who donate money to the Jubilee Center] to come when the kids are here," Curtiss said.
The Jubilee Center provides a safe environment for kids whose working parents are unable to afford child-care. The majority of people who work as tutors there do so on a volunteer basis.
Money raised from donations such as the one made by Haven Savings is used to fund various activities, such as cooking classes and field trips, along with materials for those activities. Mainor said that the children who attend the Jubilee Center, the vast majority of whom live in Hoboken Housing Authority residences, are asked to contribute some money if their families can afford doing so. But most simply cannot.
"About 80 percent of our kids are not paying anything because they can't afford it, so the check that he gave us is a huge help," said Mainor. "It allows me not to be a gatekeeper at the door, saying to children, 'You didn't pay, so you can't get in.' "
Mainor said the Jubilee Center is holding its annual holiday performance on December 16 at 7 p.m. and will be hosting its third annual "Daddy and Me" dance in February, an event aimed at encouraging father's to take more active roles in their children's lives.
For those looking to make charitable donations as the end of the year approaches, Curtiss said people can visit the Jubilee Center's website to make an online donation, or call and speak with one of the board members about arranging to make a donation.
Perhaps Curtiss best summed things while chatting with Wessling just before he presented the check to Mainor.
"A little bit here, a little bit there," Curtiss told Wessling. "But it all adds up to something remarkable."