Lambertville resident Jeff Strasburg, 25, saw firsthand the devastation and damage caused by the Hurricane Ida floodwaters that raged through the streets of Lambertville.
“I was shoveling sewage out of people’s basements,” he said of his experience, “but I knew that wasn’t going to be enough. We had to get creative.”
Strasburg felt fortunate. The Union Street home he shares with his partner, Arden Hawes, was little affected. Yet he couldn’t stop contemplating the lingering challenges that his fellow community members were facing in the aftermath of this disaster: condemned housing, damaged belongings, navigating emergency services, needing to remain close to Lambertville in order to stay employed, keeping the local economy running.
Strasburg went to his boss, Bill Sheehy, founder of Sheehy & Molinelli, a small, boutique financial planning firm in Hamilton, NJ.
“I am torn up right now,” he said to Sheehy. “I am coming into work, totally fine, while my neighbors are at home cleaning out their belongings from buildings that may be condemned.”
Sheehy immediately responded, “I am going to give you $10,000,” he said, “I need you to make sure it ends up in the right places.” The two agreed that a Sheehy & Molinelli matching grant program would be the most effective use of these funds. Sheehy said of his corporate giving philosophy, “Every corporate entity has an ethical obligation to allocate a portion of their funds towards non-profit organizations and keep them healthy.”
Knowing its longstanding history of service in the community, Strasburg approached Fisherman’s Mark, a nonprofit social services agency in Lambertville in the forefront of the Hurricane Ida relief effort. “I tapped on Executive Director Jennifer Williford’s car window. I definitely scared her,” he said.
Williford detailed the immediate hardships that she and her team were working to cure. “The Fisherman’s Mark Hurricane Ida Relief program is designed to assist those who suffered property damage, lost housing, or are behind in utility payments,” Williford said. “We have many clients whose living situations are currently temporary. Some are still without power. One of our clients is expecting a baby in a few short weeks and remains in temporary housing,” she said.
“I knew I had come to the right place,” Strasburg said, “The funds from a matching grant placed with Fisherman’s Mark would end up where they were needed most. ”
Strasburg then got busy marketing the effort. “I was able to use the power of social media, leverage my personal connections, and tap into the incredible support system that is Lambertville,” Strasburg said.
After only a few short weeks, through the generosity of Lambertville residents and businesses, the matching program has raised over $30,000 for Hurricane Ida relief. “This is only the second corporate matching donation we’ve received since I’ve been Executive Director,” Williford said. “The funds raised will help many.”
“This is a wonderful cause and I’m sure the money will be well used by people that suffered damages beyond their control,” said Sheehy.
“I am thrilled with the results and the amount we’ve raised, but based on what I know about this community, I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Strasburg said. “My hope is that these funds will help some of our displaced neighbors secure permanent housing. I have full faith that Jenn and her team will do what is best for the community.”
Strasburg grew up in Doylestown, but has been a resident of Lambertville since March of 2020. “I own my house on North Union Street and plan on being here for a long time to come. Arden and I are addicted to this community,” he said.