United Way is continuing its supply drive for Newburgh residents following last week’s tornado. Tonight, a local taproom is donating all of its proceeds to United Way to help the city get back on its feet.
The National Weather Service confirmed that four tornadoes touched down in the Hudson Valley The severe weather that brought down trees onto cars claimed the lives of a woman in Rockland County and two people in Newburgh, including an 11-year-old girl. The storms tore apart homes and businesses. United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region stepped in to help, purchasing and delivering food for Newburgh residents. And though power is back, the need for supplies remains. Rachel Johnson is vice president of resource development with United Way.
“A lot of the soup kitchens and the food pantries, the supplies were just completely wiped out. And so that’s what United Way does. We get the call for help and we respond immediately. So we are restocking them. We are collecting both goods, products that have been donated. People are dropping off bags of items, but they’re also making monetary donations, which is so helpful. And 100 percent of the donations go back to help the Newburgh residents, both the city and town,” Johnson says. “And if people can’t drop items, we’ll go shopping for them and get those basic essentials to make sure that those who need those items get those items.”
United Way will be distributing these items to locations that are continuing to serve the people of Newburgh in the storms’ aftermath, including Blacc Vanilla, the Newburgh Ministry, RECAP, and others.
Newburgh Brewing Company owner Paul Halayko, once his business was returned to power Friday, reached out to United Way asking how to help. He started as a donation point and, today from 4-9 p.m. will dedicate all taproom proceeds to United Way.
“Yup, 100 percent of the proceeds, beer, food. We’re also getting donation of cider from Graft Cidery, which is another area business here in Newburgh. We’re getting a donation of beer to serve from Rushing Duck Brewing in Chester,” Halayko says. “Again, and these were businesses that we didn’t ask for anything, they reached out to us and said, hey, what can we give to help with the event.”
Customers may continue to bring donated items to the brewery. Halayko selected Wednesday because it’s usually a busy night for the brewery; it’s Trivia Night. Plus, Halayko says:
“We’re also partnering with our screen printer, Mixture Prints, another great Newburgh business. And they’re creating these #NewburghStrong t-shirts. They’re doing it as a total donation,” Halayko says. “We’re going to be selling them for $10 each, and all proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will also be donated to United Way.”
Steve Black is volunteering two hours of music. He’s a regular solo acoustic performer at the Newburgh Brewing Company, but usually not on Wednesdays. His Bennett Road house in the Town of Newburgh was in the path of destruction and he and his neighbors are now living in hotel rooms. Black says a tree fell into his dining room, causing at least $50,000 worth of damage. I asked him if he has anything special planned for his charity acoustic performance.
“I don’t know about a speech but it’s funny you ask. I have been thinking about what might be a good song to perform, especially in memory to, unfortunately, the lives that we lost on that day, one being right around the corner from my house as well, at the Desmond campus for Mount Saint Mary College,” says Black. “The song that keeps popping up in my head just because of its beauty and all that is Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. I think that’s probably what I’m going to settle on, although I’m not too sure that the lyrics themselves really have as much meaning as just the sentiment and feeling of the song.”
Halayko says his business was spared the worst of the storm, but one block west — Liberty Street —incurred massive damage.
“#NewburghStrong really describes the community here where there’s such a passion of people that live in the city, whether they live here, do business here or both, to help their neighbors when they’re in need and, really, that’s what you’re seeing from the outpouring,” says Halayko. “All weekend long we had donated items. And the fact that all the bars and restaurants on Liberty Street, because their lights were off and they had no power, all their food was going to go bad, so they were giving food away for free, and they were doing a cookout right on Liberty Street that residents could come and eat for free.”
“And the outpouring from the community has just been overwhelming,” says Johnson. “It’s just so heart touching to see people not just within our community, but we’re seeing a lot of people outside of the Hudson Valley helping us out. We’re seeing donations come in from New York City.”
“When it comes to Newburgh revitalization, I feel like, along with the riverfront, when the Newburgh Brewery came around, that was really just a catalyst for growth and progress in Newburgh,” Black says. “I wish those guys the best and I wish Newburgh the best. #NewburghStrong.”
For dropoff locations and items needed, visit and United Way’s website for tornado relief for Newburgh.