Elks Club of Keyport-Matawan Give Residents a Day They Will Always Remember

Elks Club of Keyport-Matawan Give Residents a Day They Will Always Remember
Posted on 09/01/2016
Collier House with Keyport-Matawan Elks
Ray Ceccarelli was introduced to Collier House in 2008 when his daughter, Danielle, was referred to the Collier Youth Services program. Collier House, a residential program in Keyport run by Collier Youth Services, helps young women ages 16-21 transition from foster care or homelessness to healthy, self-sufficient lives.

Danielle, like many other young women who have come through the doors of Collier House, was not a "bad girl", but headstrong. "She lacked direction. Regardless of what we'd say to her, she'd make bad decisions. She just wouldn't listen to us," Ray said. "We tried different programs and counseling, but nothing seemed to be working. Somehow, Danielle heard about Collier House." Ray recalls Collier House being a godsend to his daughter and his family. "Danielle thought it was strict at times, but the counselors really looked out for them [ the girls]." He appreciated that the counselors helped the young women find employment, form positive, healthy relationships, and become independent. “Living at Collier House was very maturing for Danielle. She made friends and developed skills she needed to succeed. Danielle certainly gained a lot from being there, especially guidance.”

Fast forward eight years to May 2016. Ray, who is the president of the Keyport-Matawan Elks Club, had applied for a Beacon Grant from the Elks Grand Lodge. This grant provides local Elks lodges an opportunity to be beacons of hope to their community. “We do a lot of charity work in our community but I wanted to give this grant to a group we hadn’t helped before. As I was driving to the lodge for a meeting, Collier House popped into my head.” Being that this was the first time they applied for the grant, Ray was unsure if they would be accepted, and thankfully they were!

Ray and the Keyport-Matawan Elks agreed to use the Beacon Grant money to treat the young women of Collier House to a much needed day out on the town. The residents had lunch at Bertucci’s, went on a shopping spree at Target, and received a manicure and pedicure at a local spa. It was a heartwarming moment for Ray to be able to give back to an organization that not only helped him and his family, but to help other young women like Danielle. “Some of those girls have been through hell…but to make them feel special for even just one day means so much to them.” Ray thought back to how much it meant to his daughter to know that there were people in the community who cared for them and how essential community support is for their healing. “It makes them feel like they weren’t just tossed aside.”

And was Ray right! Afterwards, the young women could not stop thanking Ray and the Elks for all they have done. “I enjoyed the day! I just felt so good afterwards,” Hannah, a Collier House resident said. “It was really an amazing day,” Rachel, another Collier House resident, exclaimed. As a result of the Beacon Grant, Collier House will continue to receive annual support from the Keyport-Matawan Elks Club.

As for Danielle, she successfully left Collier House in 2010, recently got married, and is currently employed full-time as a leasing agent for a company in Sayreville, NJ.

For more information on how you or your organization can help Collier Youth Services, please contact Russell Gartz, 732-946-4771 x415 or rgartz@collieryouthservices.org.
  • Caramore Farm