By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
Palisades Simon Meadow YMCA Park was the setting for PRESENT NOW’s fifth annual “Party in the Park” on the sunny afternoon of Sunday, July 15.
This event was free for families to attend, with donations going toward the purchase of school supplies that the charity will then distribute in backpacks to children living in domestic violence shelters with their mothers. Festivities included carnival games, food trucks and scavenger hunts.
PRESENT NOW was launched by Melanie Neumann and Erica Fisher, who met each other 10 years ago and discovered a shared aspiration to help women and children in need.
Their combined backgrounds in nonprofit event planning and social work proved to be just what they needed to build such a unique operation. It began in 2012, and currently serves 537 children in 34 shelters throughout the state.
As the name suggests, the charity offers a present-giving program to assist mothers and their children entering domestic violence shelters by providing presents on special occasions.
For example, the “Presence of Being” box is given to children on their birthday, and includes a new toy, outfit and book. In addition, the mother receives a restaurant gift card so that she may take her child out for a nice dinner and ingredients to make a homemade birthday cake.
On Valentine’s Day, a “Presence of Love” box includes an electronic learning device such as a smart watch or Kindle, to aid in a child’s essential learning.
“I wish we didn’t have to do this [program], but what we do is so necessary,” Neumann told the Palisadian-Post. “We’re changing lives in the smallest moments.”
As the website states, “All women and children entering a domestic violence shelter of any kind leave their homes with no possessions. This is the driving force behind the creation of PRESENT NOW Present Program.”
The organization is also involved in numerous community outreach programs designed to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
For more information or to get involved, visit presentnow.org.