By Chelsea Sullivan and Gabby Pardo
The Axis Church in Port Jefferson raised about $1,200 dollars for the Hope Day Network, a non-profit charity organization that gives back to community members in need, last Saturday by holding a “Retro Worship Night” for 100 community members.
This is the third event this year that the church has held to fundraise for Hope Day, after recently hosting a pancake breakfast with Applebee’s. Hope Day has 32 sites across N.Y., N.J. and Rhode Island, that recruit volunteers from different organizations such as churches, social services, fire departments,- and doctor’s offices to offer their services for free at the event. The network’s director, Mike Taormina, projects to have 4,000 volunteers and to give 140,000 pounds of groceries at events this year.
“Not only do we get money from these events, but we also get people from the community donating,” Roy Rodrigues, member and coordinator of the church’s Worship Band, said. “People have amazing hearts and they decide to write checks.”
Tickets for Retro Night were sold at $10 each along with food and beverages being available for a few dollars. The profits all go toward Hope Day’s ultimate goal to give back to the homeless, hungry, and other community members who can’t afford services, along with expanding their network.
“Everything is free, everyone is served a free lunch, as well as health and community services,” Taormina said. “Over the last 7 years, Hope Day has mobilized 13,000 volunteers, served 75,000 guests of honor, and given out 354,000 pounds of groceries as well as 93,000 hot lunches.”
The new pastor of Axis church since January, Rich Gorgone, has worked with Hope Day since it started eight years ago.
The third Saturday of every month, members of the Axis Church in Port Jefferson cooks breakfast for the homeless, and speaks with them.
“There’s a homeless shelter down the road that a lot of people come from,” Gorgone said. “We try to bring people out of homelessness. Some of them want to stay that way, they have something in their mind that makes them not want to change. That’s ok, we still give them food.”
Hope Day recruits volunteers at a young age. Lisa Cooper was first a volunteer for the organization before she got promoted to the marketing field. She then opened her own Hope Day site and is currently the Long Island Regional Coach.
Members of the church like Grace Neeris, who is also a part of Rodrigues’ Worship Band, hoped those who attended gained a positive message from the event.
“This event encourages people to reflect on their past and where they are now and see how far they’ve come, so they can feel a sense of hope,” Neeris said.
For the next two months, the Axis Church will focus on preparing for the 2019 Hope Day Festival, which will take place on June. Volunteers from different communities will provide groceries, haircuts, job opportunities and other free services along with a day of fun to those in need.