On Sunday Oct. 15, people of all ages can attend Hoboken’s first annual Pizza Fest at the Elks club on Washington Street. It’s a fundraiser for True Mentors, a non-profit volunteer organization that helps over 140 children find internships and mentors with local residents.
Hoboken Pizza Fest is the brainchild of resident Adam Smith of Hoboken Happy Hours and Katie Eades, the executive director of True Mentors.
“We actually sat down, and Pizza Fest wasn’t even what we were initially talking about,” said Eades. “We were looking for young male mentors to join True Mentors. A lot of volunteer organizations struggle to find young male mentors, so we sat down to see if maybe we could have volunteers or a booth … Pizza Fest came from there.”
The idea proved popular and is now about 80 percent sold out.
Pizza Fest will take part in two sessions, one from 11 a.m. geared toward family and children, with live music from The Fuzzy Lemons and the other from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. will include live music from Gravy Train.
“You can come enjoy some great music get some samples from each of our participating principal places and enjoy yourself,” said Smith.
Participating Pizzerias include Napoli’s, Tony Boloney’s, Dozzino, Hot House Pizza, Venti Pizza, Blue Eyes, and the Brick. There will also be a pizza eating contest in the second session of the day with pizza provided by Pizza Republic.
“How is it possible that we have a million great pizza places in town and no Pizza Fest?” said Eades.
“Pizza is just so relatable,” said Smith. “Everyone loves pizza. And obviously the East Coast in one the best places in the world to get some. So why not go to one spot and try all the best places in town.”
A good cause
“True Mentors is great,” said Smith. “We love the aspect of helping young children as they are growing up. I’ve had plenty of different mentors in my day, and True Mentors pairs mentors with children who might not have one. It’s absolutely critical to have someone you can look up to.”
Eades became the executive director of True Mentors in February of 2016 and has since additionally absorbed the role of program Director.
Eades said the fundraising will go to several new initiatives this year.
“A lot of our funds go to background checks for new mentors and supplies for our enrichment camps,” said Eades. “We also take our seniors on a college trip to visit colleges and universities. Last year we were only able to take them to three colleges. This year with additional funds we hope to take them to six.”
She added that they also throw quarterly mentor/mentee celebrations that can include an enrichment field trip.
“Working over the course of a year, you see their organic relationships develop and how it impacts them positively,” said Eades. “They can talk about school or whatever is going on in their lives with a trusted adult who is not a parent or a teacher.”
The organization has about 120 volunteer mentors and they are always looking for more, especially since this year’s enrollment of about 150 children is the highest they have had. She added that True Mentors and other non-profits have had difficulty get young men to volunteer for a few reasons.
“I think the first issue is that Hoboken is such a transient place,” said Eades. “We ask for a one-year commitment and a lot of people aren’t sure they can do that.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer can do so via the website. The process begins with a completed application and interview.
For more information on True Mentors go to http://truementors.org/. To support True Mentors at Pizza Fest, purchase a ticket for $25 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hoboken-pizza-fest-2017-tickets-37044723766.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.