2023 State of Robbinsville Township/Pay it Forward Event Raises Record $65,000 For McLaughlin Family
HAMILTON, NJ - (May 16, 2023) - The eighth rendition of Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried's groundbreaking "Pay it Forward" initiative was a record-setting success Tuesday at The Stone Terrace by John Henry's.
As part of his annual State of Robbinsville Township address, the mayor and his team raised more than $65,000 - a new record for the event - to help the McLaughlin Family of Robbinsville, who have suffered a series of medical and financial setbacks since their son Nico was diagnosed with Evans Syndrome as an infant.
“This wonderful family has been on our radar for many years, but Nico’s incredible strength and his will to live a full and happy life gave us confidence to wait a little longer,” Mayor Fried said in his nearly 25-minute address. “Well, that time is now.”
The McLaughlins – Karen, Bruce, Nico and Mikayla - are longtime members of the Robbinsville community. This year’s donations allowed the Township, via the C.A.R.E. Foundation 501c3, to purchase a 2020 Plymouth Voyager and help the family with an additional $10,000 for their mortgage, which had fallen into arrears.
Nico’s life-long battle with Evans - an extremely rare blood and auto-immune disease - afflicts less than 1,000 people in the world.
“When we started Pay it Forward back in 2015, the idea was to get a wheelchair accessible van for the Shepherd family,” Fried said. “Nine years later, thanks to Phil Mastellone, John Crooks and the team at Robbinsville Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Route 130, we’ve come full circle. Phil not only loaned the McLaughlin’s a vehicle for over a month free of charge when their family SUV died in February, but they stepped up – with the help of all your donations – to find them a certified pre-owned van.”
Since debuting the Pay it Forward initiative, Robbinsville has raised over $450,000 for individuals and organizations in need.
As for Township business, Fried cited inflation as the driver pointing toward a 3.8 cent tax increase as part of the 2023 municipal budget, which is now in the hands of Council. The increase would amount to approximately $144 per year, per household. Robbinsville either cut or kept its taxes flat for nine of the past 11 years.
“No one hates raising taxes more than me,” Fried said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it … this year is going to sting a bit. We took incredible measures, and many sacrifices were made. For us, trash, pension payments, health insurance and a sizeable downpayment on our future police and court building were the biggest drivers. But know this: Robbinsville taxpayers are still getting tremendous value for their money. The quality of our services has not and will not suffer. Home values are still up, as are sales of existing homes – and there aren’t many of those available. The investments we want to make this year will have a significant impact on future budgets.”
Fried also presented $5,000 checks, via the C.A.R.E. 501c3, to the PBA Welfare and Survivor Fund in the name of recently injured RTPD officer Connor Boyle, as well as $5,000 to Robbinsville community legend Dave Doran, who is waging a courageous battle with ALS. Robbinsville also announced the re-naming of its Recreation Building at Miry Run, which will now be known as the “Doran Center.”
The Township also gave its first-ever Pay it Forward Awards to emcee and William Penn Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Officer Jeannine Cimino for her years of contributions to the event, as well as to the Robbinsville Police Department for its award-winning community policing efforts. The event also broke its attendance record with over 270 inside John Henry's.
The mayor also unveiled his vision for the possible acquisition of the former Roma/Investors Bank Building next door to its existing Municipal Building at 2298 Route 33.
“Right now, those 47,000 square – appraised at $9.3 million - are vacant,” Fried said. “We would like to purchase it and move all of our operations, with the exception of DPW, Fire and the Senior Center under one roof. The cost of building a new police and court has ballooned to the tune of $14 million. If we can get in there for $4.7 million less, it makes sense. Is it ambitious? Yes. But it makes sense logistically, and from a business and budgetary standpoint.”
This year’s top corporate sponsors are: William Penn Bank, Hexa Builders, Legacy Treatment Services, B.A.P.S. Charities, Route 130 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Adam Elias. Other generous sponsors included Sharbell and Mason Griffin & Pierson.
Past Pay it Forward recipients include the Shepherd Family, Quilts for Comfort, Deborah Dauer, C.A.R.E., Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, the We Love Our R'ville Neighbors campaign and the Breden Family, the latter in conjunction with Little Angels Service Dogs.
Please write "2023 Pay it Forward" in the check notes. To donate via PayPal, CLICK HERE.