From left: Rotarians Joe Horner, John Shockley, Tulsi Maharjan and Jodi DiPane-Saleem, Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey representatives Gene Elwood, Norus Achmetov and Val DiGiacinto, and TriState President Farzan Saleem.
TriState Aviation, the FBO/Flight School located at Central Jersey Regional Airport, is no stranger to providing services to the community.
They consistently donate flights to various charities in the area to assist with nonprofit fundraising activities and offer field trip services to both child and adult day care centers, schools and local scouting programs.
Gift certificates for scenic flights have been provided to benefit Rotary Clubs, local schools, churches, youth groups and recreational organizations and high school organizations. In addition to providing gift certificates, TriState Aviation also organizes some fundraising activities throughout the year in order to raise money for worthy nonprofit charities.
The Veterans Appreciation Day and Santa Fly-In, both hosted at the airport, are two main fundraisers TriState has hosted along with several Rotary Clubs in the area from District 7510. Branchburg, Dunellen/Green Brook, Hillsborough, Old Bridge/Sayreville, Piscataway and Somerville/Bridgewater Rotary Clubs have participated with one or both of these events to assure they run as smoothly as possible.
“The Rotary Clubs have been really instrumental with the success of our fund raising,” said Jodi DiPane-Saleem, office manager of TriState Aviation and a member of the Hillsborough Rotary Club. “Their support is instrumental to our operation when it comes to raising money for charity.”
All the work TriState does throughout the year leads to a big payoff for an entity in dire need of support.
“When we host the Santa Fly-In, the parents are informed that all proceeds will be donated to a local charity," DiPane-Saleem said. "They question where the money is going and want to know how their donation is being appropriated. When people attend our Veterans Appreciation Day, they know funds are going to support our military, but they don’t know exactly what organization will benefit from that event.
"I want these people that take the time to attend our events and make those contributions to know that the money they gave us has been directed to a good cause. They’re as much a part of this as we are and they deserve the recognition.”
TriState is proud that they’ve been able to generate money for Welcome Home Vets of NJ, which is the nonprofit organization selected to benefit from donations totaling $8,100.
Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey provides immediate and long-term assistance through their organization and their partners to assist soldiers, veterans and their families in need of housing, financial, employment and emotional support. The testimonials of the work they perform is heart-wrenching. They offer services for circumstances that’s out of the realm of support the VA can provide.
“There are a lot of situations that our veterans and returning active military need help or direction with that Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey are able to circumvent to make a soldier’s life better,” DiPane-Saleem said. “Some of their work requires professional support such as legal aid, social work and therapy. In those situations, volunteers within the organization provide their services for free. When financial needs are required, Welcome Home Vets’ workload is limited to the amount of money available in their account. Our donation has given them some leverage to assist more servicemen and women.”
Welcome Home Vets of NJ has dozens of heart-wrenching stories that truly represent the type of work this organization provides for our servicemen.
At age 90, Thomas was bedridden and suffering with end-stage renal failure. He was receiving 24/7 care at the apartment he had occupied from the early 1970s. His wife had passed away in the mid-1990s.
Thomas had exhausted his savings and his monthly income was insufficient to cover his rent, utilities, food and homecare. As a result, the landlord processed and eviction. His singular wish was to live out his remaining time in his “cherished” apartment, filled with his memories. Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey provided financial and legal assistance as well as court representation. Eviction proceedings were halted and the landlord was fully compensated. Thomas peacefully passed away on Feb. 2, 2015 in the home Welcome Home Vets helped him to maintain the last few months of his life.
“I think it’s important to treat our military with dignity and show them the respect they deserve for the service they provided,” DiPane-Saleem said, as she reflected on this organizations commitment to help our military personnel. “Until I hooked up with Welcome Home Vets, I had no idea there were so many servicemen in need of support outside of what the VA provides. When we were considering an organization that my husband and I thought could use additional funding, I never expected to come across Welcome Home Vets of NJ, but a click on the web opened my eyes to an organization that really embodies giving and helping in a community.
“Their work is phenomenal and I’m really proud to be a part of this contribution. More importantly, I would like those that gave at our fundraisers to know where the money they donated was directed. These people are the real givers and heroes. The moms that bring their kids to sit on Santa’s lap, the people that purchased popcorn, those that bought a raffle ticket for an airplane ride or threw money into our donation jar all deserve to know that collectively their contributions make a difference. Welcome Home Vets NJ, is overwhelmed by the contribution they received, but TriState was just the vessel for obtaining the funds. This was a collaborative effort between us, Joe and Teri Horner (the airport owners), DGN John Shockley, his wife Linda, the various Rotary Clubs from District 7510, CRJ Contracting in Somerville and the estate of Robert Stefen — all of whom made financial contributions to support us with our drive to commit funding to Welcome Home Vets.”
Welcome Home Vets NJ was represented by Gene Elwood, Val DiGiacinto and Norus Achmetov for the presentation of the donation they were receiving. When told the total dollar amount of the contributions, the reaction was priceless.
“Our group was speechless and very humbled by the efforts of so many people to support our work with veterans," DiGiacinto said. "The amount of the donation was so much more than we had anticipated. Our promise to all those who supported this event is that 100 percent of the contributions will go to help veterans and their Families in need in New Jersey. 2017 has brought us so many calls for help already from our Veteran community. This donation came just at the right time for us to be able to offer our services to more veterans. We will provide Jodi with feedback as to how some of this amazing donation was used as we move forward this year. Again, we can’t thank all those supporters enough and God bless all those who donated, participated and helped with these events that led to this contribution.”
“We’re really looking forward to 2017 as well. Now that we’ve established ourselves as a community oriented business, we’re hoping to receive more support from the public to keep these contributions growing,” said DiPane-Saleem, who is planning the next venture to be held at the airport. “Keep May 20 marked on your calendar! We’re already planning for a military support event to coincide with New York’s Fleet Week. We just processed applications with the Air Force and Navy for some large military planes to perform fly-bys and a number of aircraft to be placed on our field for an incredible static display of helicopters.
"New Jersey’s Military Transport Association has already committed to bringing in numerous retired military vehicles and the Basilone Foundation has also committed a presence to support our causes. Last, but not least, is the support we receive from the local Rotary Clubs in our area. Their support has been instrumental to our growth and recognition in the community service arena. TriState appreciates their participation and all the effort they’ve put into supporting our events. We look forward to future endeavors with them and hope to support some of their causes as well.”