Power of One - Making a Difference for Clifton
Chances are if you live in Clifton, Kim Castellano has had a positive impact on your life. Twenty-three years ago, the church where she’d been working closed, and Kim followed her heart and founded Power Of One, a charity whose mission is “alleviating poverty by providing personal development, wellness workshops, and valuable resources that assist families and individuals back to independence.”
The organization is focused strictly on Clifton’s citizens and the diverse needs of its 90,000-plus residents. Disasters and emergencies happen every day; sometimes, they’re widespread like Hurricane Ida or a pandemic. Other times, a family loses their home to a fire, a job loss, or another crisis. Power of One is ready to help with temporary housing, food supplies, job search help, whatever it takes to get people back on their feet in the shortest possible time. Clients are treated with dignity and compassion and given resources so that they can ultimately become independent. Help starts early for some Clifton children, who are given new backpacks filled with the school supplies they’ll need to succeed, as part of the Back2School Outreach program. Donation bins are set up throughout the city in July and August and monetary donations are welcomed.
Food insecurity has always been an issue and it has become worse in the past three years due to the pandemic, job losses, and rising prices. To alleviate hunger, Power of One works throughout the year to raise funds and awareness and asks for donations of non-perishable foods, as well as supermarket gift cards. One such drive is going on now through April 3rd to make sure that children who get some meals at school don’t go hungry during Clifton’s schools’ spring break. During the pandemic, Power of One volunteers made sure that no family in Clifton went hungry. In assembly-line fashion, groceries, including meat and fresh produce, were given out to Clifton residents at the Boys and Girls club. Volunteers put supplies together and placed them directly into car trunks and also delivered groceries to shut-ins.
For the working poor who struggle to make ends meet on salaries that don’t keep up with our changing world, Power of One volunteers can help with resources for housing aid, job training, and life coaching in addition to helping out with food sorting and distribution. Kim, who is a certified life coach and counselor, has been offering workshops on a topic familiar to all of us: Stress. In a series of workshops held at the Clifton Senior Center Barn, the Stress-Anxiety-Grief support group is designed to help understand the mental and physical effects of stress, and helps to guide you in how to identify triggers and cope. Although the workshops just started, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 862-239-5905 for information.
Power of One is very involved in the community and usually has a table at the City Picnic, National Night Out, Harvest Fest, and other town events. They also stay involved through the Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner, Christmas toy drives, and even a local cable television show called “Conversations that Inspire” about a variety of topics, including mental health, nutrition advice, and other resources. It airs on Channels 21/76/77 and 40 on Fios, Sundays at 12:30 PM and Wednesdays at 6:00 PM. You can also watch at any time on YouTube. They also put together community awareness events such as the one recently held at the Boys and Girls Club that featured local and national organizations such as SERV Behavioral Health, 4Cs of Passaic County Child Care, Clifton CERT (community emergency response training), CASA, and the National Breast Cancer Research Foundation, among others.
As our population ages, issues change. People are living longer and dealing with challenges such as health problems, living on a fixed income, family loss, and loss of independence. Many seniors who sell their family homes and move into the city’s senior housing have unique needs. Power of One goes to the various senior housing facilities, where they spend time with residents doing crafts, exercising, playing board games and Bingo, providing bags of nutritious food as a supplement, and lending a friendly ear to a population that sometimes feels left out. Seniors know that they are able to come to the Senior Barn on weekdays for activities and a healthy lunch and again, Power of One, and Kim, are there.
The newest offering at the Senior Barn is a Zumba class designed for seniors, led by the very energetic, dynamic Yuli, a long-time volunteer. The Clifton Times was invited to observe but ended up participating and having a wonderful time, in addition to getting a good but easy on the joints workout. We danced to music ranging from the Charleston to 50s and 60s standards, up to disco and Spanish dance music. Zumba is every Thursday at the Senior Barn from 3-4 PM; wear comfortable clothing!
Volunteers, the backbone of Power of One, are always needed and include teens, college students, seniors, and families working together. Power of One is a registered 501(c)3 public charity, so donations are tax-deductible and always welcome. For more information, you can call 862-239-5905, go to www.powerofoneccom.org, or go to their Facebook page.
For information on additional senior citizen issues, contact the Clifton Senior Center at (973) 470-2234. Lunches and other activities take place at the Senior Barn, located in the Municipal Complex across from the Animal Shelter.