By: Gabrielle Mills, Follow South Jersey Intern
PATERSON, N.J. — On a windy day in downtown Paterson, CUMAC, an anti hunger focused nonprofit, hosts its first annual Community Fun Fair, a four hour event during which vendors, other nonprofits, and members of the community get together and share resources.
Co-coordinators Cynthia Cangre-Ron and Jenni Mastrangelo spearhead the event.
“Community Fun Fair was something we saw a need for,” Cangre-Ron states. “Here at the marketplace we get people’s stories. We hear them, we approach it the way we would for ourselves.”
Although the event is named Community Fun Fair, it boasts more than a bouncy house.
The family friendly event stays true to CUMAC’s mission by offering not only fun for the whole family but a vaccination clinic and information booth.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, the guidelines were very strict,” Cangre-Ron states. “Now in 2022 the guidelines have changed and they will continue to change. So with that when [people] go to this event, they’re going to speak to the Community COVID Corps Team”
Partnership for Maternal and Child Health, a nonprofit that specializes in maternal care, helped to co-sponsor this event. The nonprofit was out in full force but declined comment for confidentiality purposes.
Among some of the other organizations at the event were Habitat for Humanity. The nationwide nonprofit has a base in Paterson and their Community Revitalization Specialist, Unique Bacote, discussed how CUMAC’s Community Fun Fair brings in people who otherwise might not be privy to all Paterson has to offer.
“Paterson Habitat is an organization that builds homes to have affordable housing available to moderate to low income families,” Bacote states “They give them the opportunity to have an affordable mortgage, to be homeowners.”
In addition to her work at Habitat for Humanity, Bacote also works with Lead Free, an initiative to rid Paterson homes of lead based paint and educate homeowners on best practices around the toxic substance.
“Paterson has a lot of historic industrial buildings, especially homes built before 1940,” Bacote states “I’m here to educate the community on the health risks of that. I want people to understand that there’s resources available. Paterson has a lead abatement program where they can redo your piping.”
In addition to Information from other nonprofits, produce, bread, and hot food were offered at the event all at no cost to attendees.
“This isn’t just about feeding people,” Cangre-Ron states. “This is about more than that. This is about community building.”
CUMAC, short for the Center for United Methodist Aid to the Community, states its mission is “to fight hunger and its root causes through a holistic, trauma-informed approach that provides groceries and basic necessities to families and individuals in need,” according to its website.
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