Benny's Bodega has become a vital resource for those in need of basic necessities such as food, clothing, hygiene and cleaning supplies and baby supplies. The brain child of Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) worker, Benjamin Davey, over the past few years Benny's Bodega has grown to also encompass a lot of dinner and toy deliveries during the holidays and recently became an official non-profit.
It all started when Davey got a a promotion from investigator of abuse/neglect to resource development specialist.
“This position is essentially the office’s community liaison, and from there I recognized that our families struggled to have their basic needs met and that it would be beneficial for the office and our families if the community was able to take care of that need, he said. “So I started 'Benny’s Bodega' as a conduit for the community to donate to the office- all in an effort to meet the need of families so they can could focus their money or attention to another priority.”
From there, the grass roots effort grew and case workers at DCP&P used it as a resource and a way to strengthen community partnerships.
“Fast forward two or so years and Benny’s Bodega became something very useful,” Davey said. “It was not only a resource for our office but also a community resource. Families needed help, especially families that were working but didn’t make enough to pay the bills and people in the community wanted to help- so Heather (Davey's wife) and I paid an account and attorney to make Benny’s Bodega an official non profit.”
Benny's Bodega collects basic need items, the majority of which gets donated to the local child protection office but people can also access them through social media.
“In terms of criteria we talk with families to get an idea of what they need but also get most of our referrals for other community agencies so we have an idea of what is going on,” Davey said.
Members of the community can donate any amount of money for the cause via Facebook, Venmo or Pay Pal, and the Bodega should have an active website withing the week.
“Heather is on the board of trustees as is my sister and mother in law,” Davey said. “We had a toy drive with Wantage Youth Football, Salon DiPanche, and the Blue Arrow Farm. The Sparta Police Department is collecting blankets and sheets and donating them to us. Most importantly we partner closely with Fresh Pickens, in Sandyston. They have donated and helped us raise over 7000 dollars and donate fresh food weekly which we disperse to local families.We are very fortunate for our partnership with Kelly Noguerol and Fresh Pickens.”
Davey has earned his masters in social work from Fordham University and has passed licensing exams to be a LCSW.
“Our ultimate goal is to raise enough money and partner with social services as a resource for the 'working poor,” he said. “We also want to continue to be a conduit for the community to help one another. 'People helping people” is our motto.”
Thus far, Benny's Bodega has paid water bills, oil bills and back rent for those in need. They have also have delivered food, cleaning supplies, winter coats and other essentials.
“We partner closely with the child protection office and will never turn anyone down for help but ultimately want to be a resource for the working population,” Davey said.
The Davey kids are a big part of the effort.
“We try to involve our kids whenever possible,” Heather Davey said. “It teaches them to be thankful for wht hey have but more importantly, it teaches them to help people in a time of need.”
What started unofficially in 2017 and officially in 2019 has become a vital resource for many people. Especially during the holidays and colder weather, Benny's Bodega is asking for donations. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/bennys.bodega or find Benny's Bodega on Instagram. One of Benny's Bodego's initiatives for the holidays is a “Reverse Advent Calendar” which can be found on the facebook page. Each day, participants add a suggested item to a box and donate it to Benny's Bodego on Christmas Eve. Boxes can be dropped off at the Davey's home located at 2 Grandview Drive in Newton. In the future, Benny's Bodega plans to procure a storefront to further facilitate all of the work it does for the community.