This story is part of "We Care Montclair," a special celebration of groups and individuals working to help the Montclair community. See more stories in the special "We Care Montclair" section inserted into the April 29 edition of Montclair Local.

Compiled by LOUIS C. HOCHMAN

This has been an extraordinary year — one that tested all of our resolve. But in Montclair, time and again, we saw groups and individuals step up, to reinvent themselves, to help people in need, to find ways of being of service. To care.

In our April 2021 special supplement, we’re revisiting a concept from a special issue of Montclair Local a year ago — “We Care Montclair.” We invited community groups from throughout the township to submit short thanks to the people who make their missions possible. In some cases, they spoke of creativity and initiative that helped groups and those they serve adjust to pandemic-era life; in others, they celebrated the dedicated service they’ve been proud to enjoy for years.

We know we didn’t reach everyone — so we’d like to encourage any Montclair-based nonprofit or volunteer-driven groups we missed to send up to 250 characters, thanking someone who makes them grateful, to between now and May 14. We’ll publish a supplemental list in an upcoming edition. 

And tell us, any time, about anyone at all you think deserves to be celebrated. We’d be glad to consider them for story subjects, for announcements or for other reflection in the pages of Montclair Local.

The expressions of gratitude below are as provided by Montclair organizations, with only minor edits for clarity or grammar. The sentiments expressed are their own.

Words of thanks

Evelyn Colbert
Evelyn Colbert

Superhero-sized thanks to Evelyn McGee Colbert for creative advocacy on Gov. Phil Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Commission to ensure the survival of New Jersey’s devastated arts and cultural sector, including Montclair Film, where she volunteers as board president. — Montclair Film

Thank you, Jennifer Caldarella, for ALWAYS helping MFEE: teacher grant orders, countless deliveries for PEEPs, office support and consistently participating in our wacky events (and cajoling others to join). You go above and beyond to support our students. — Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence

A huge thank-you to the board of trustees, the staff and the management group at The Montclair Foundation for their commitment and untiring work during this past year. The community and your chair are appreciative and grateful for all that has been done in furtherance of our mission. — Emer Featherstone, Montclair Foundation trustee 

Outpost in the Burbs would like to thank our fabulous volunteers, who are the foundation of all we do. Sadly, one of our long-time volunteers, Bill King, passed away on April 2. His passion for music and life will be greatly missed. Outpost in the Burbs

The YMCA of Montclair would like to celebrate its incredible staff, who helped support our members, children and the community during this difficult time. Thank you to our team for truly going above and beyond in everything you do. #StrongerTogether YMCA of Montclair

League of Women Voters team Donna Ward, Susan Mack, Ann Moore and Carmel Loughman registered about 675 voters in Newark, East Orange and Irvington, distributed 4,000 voter forms and published numerous articles explaining the vote-by-mail process. — League of Women Voters of the Montclair Area

I would like to shout out to our current fosterers, in particular volunteer dog fosterers Christine McGowan, Rich DeMartin, Patty Zirul, Julia Palermo and Devon Keeley, for their amazing work with many of our rescued dogs, whose lives and spirits are now renewed in great forever homes. They give their all to these dogs, many who’ve had very tough pasts, and I am grateful for their help and care.
— Carole Michales, director of PAWS Montclair

The Montclair Public Library would like to thank the Montclair Library Friends led by Ed Robin, the Friends of the Bellevue Avenue Library led by Cordelia Siporin and the Montclair Public Library Foundation with Irena Goldstein as chair. These groups advocate tirelessly for the library, volunteer for special projects and raise funds. The library celebrates these dedicated library lovers for their dedication and advocacy. Montclair Public Library

Outstanding local volunteer, fundraiser and human rights advocate Tracy Higgins, Fordham Law professor and founder of the Leitner Center for International Law & Justice, joined the Montclair State University board of trustees on April 16. Congrats, Tracy! Montclair State University

The board and executive director of Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.) extend the deepest gratitude to all our volunteers, sponsors and the community for their support for our clients and in sharing the message that We All Deserve Healthy Relationships! Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates

We at Succeed2gether wish to thank all of our amazing volunteers, in particular our one-on-one tutors and enrichment class teachers. Our volunteers have pivoted, stepped up and given their all to our students over the past year. We couldn’t do it without you! Thank you! —  Succeed2gether


Vanguard Theater Company shouts out our board of directors! As a small not-for-profit, we rely on them to do so much. They always come through, from planning and staffing events, raising funds and much more. Meet them at our grand opening, June 4 to 6. The board’s president and vice president are Chris Joyce and Lindsay Roberts. — Vanguard Theater

Shout out to HOMECorp’s board of trustees!  This dedicated group of volunteers gives their time, talent and treasure to help meet our mission of creating and maintaining housing that preserves economic diversity and ignites community revitalization while fostering financial empowerment. — HOMECorp

Max Waitz
Max Waitz

We’d like to feature one of our dedicated Montclair High School student volunteers, Max Waitz.  He has spent hundreds of hours making sure that laptops are fixed and funds are raised to get free computers (donated by the public and companies) to kids in need. Laptop Upcycle

The Salvation Army wants to thank Kathryn Reilly for her consistent service, planning and preparing healthy, restaurant-quality meals for the most vulnerable members of our community and for providing breakfast at Cornerstone Shelter during the height of the COVID pandemic. Despite the many challenges brought by COVID-19, our case managers persevere. Thank you for Anna Marie Goglia and Trucly Hernandez for their compassion in action even in the most difficult circumstances. — The Salvation Army Montclair Citadel

Partners for Health would like to recognize safety net organizations in Montclair for their resiliency and resourcefulness during the past year. We are also thankful for our collaborations with other local funders, and being able to jointly fund projects to address critical needs during this health and economic crisis. In a year unlike any other, we found strength in working together. — Partners for Health

Andrea Peyser
Andrea Peyser

Andrea Peyser, LCSW, JD was the first president of Aging in Montclair (AIM) and was one of the original founders. Helping AIM to become a 501(c)3 and take a leading role in advocating for seniors was her first objective and she has never dropped her interest in helping seniors as well as citizens of all ages living and working in Montclair. She is active in her synagogue, in practice as an LCSW, is involved with the Montclair Senior Housing Action Group and is the coordinator for six facilitated discussion groups for AIM. — Aging in Montclair