Julie Bellezza joins OceanFirst Foundation

Bellezza will serve as the nonprofit’s Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator.

Julie Bellezza

Julie Bellezza

MANAHAWKIN, N.J.Aug. 29, 2022PRLog — Where there is a need, there is always a way. OceanFirst Foundation, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, has built a solid reputation as a good neighbor – providing grants that assist families, organizations, schools and communities in New Jersey markets.

The need is strong – and it runs deeper than just cutting a check. That’s why OceanFirst Foundation has welcomed Julie Bellezza to its team as Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator. Bellezza is charged with organizing all aspects of volunteering, including promoting opportunities to all of OceanFirst’s 900+ employees and other local businesses.

Bellezza, the former Recruitment Coordinator for CASA of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, is tasked with supporting all nonprofits within OceanFirst’s growing footprint, regardless of whether or not they are funded by the foundation.

“My role is going out into the community, meeting the different OceanFirst Bank team members and connecting them with nonprofits in need of volunteers,” Bellezza said.

Since its establishment, the Foundation has granted over $45 million to 8,800 local charities and schools through the Bank’s New Jersey markets, including scholarships awarded to local colleges and universities, as well as Model Classroom and Good Neighbor grants.

OceanFirst Bank and OceanFirst Foundation routinely partner to assist when our communities are in need, just one example was providing funding for pandemic-related efforts totaling over $175,000, primarily to local food banks, family care and other organizations.

“At OceanFirst we are proud that the services we deliver in the communities we serve are more than checking accounts and loans.  Our employees are part of the markets we are in, often living and raising their families in the towns, and volunteering their time and talent when they can,” said Christopher D. Maher, Chairman and CEO of OceanFirst Bank and Chairman of OceanFirst Foundation. Maher added, “When our OceanFirst employees volunteer, we call them the WaveMakers and over the years the WaveMakers have given thousands of hours to helping our neighbors who are most in need.”

But sometimes grants are not enough.

Kathy Durante, OceanFirst Foundation’s Executive Director, who has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years and is one of OceanFirst Foundation’s founding board members, knows that most nonprofits have a critical need for feet on the ground.

“At OceanFirst Foundation we are committed to connecting people, said Durante. She added, “This includes connecting non-profit organizations with each other to share best practices and ideas as well as connecting employees of OceanFirst Bank or other companies to volunteer for non-profit organizations helping our neighbors in need.”

Looking to the future, Bellezza is organizing OceanFirst Bank’s CommunityFirst Day on October 6. OceanFirst will close its branches early that day (essential services will still be available) and encourage all employees to volunteer at various local nonprofit organizations.

Bellezza will be working with local nonprofits to setup volunteering sites for employees to select from. “They also have the option of selecting a cause that they are passionate about and volunteering their time that way,” she said. “My goal is for all OceanFirst employees to continue to volunteer after October 6 and to add more companies to our volunteer efforts.”

Durante added, “As an organization, we would like to support the nonprofit community across the entire footprint. Our goal is simple – to empower nonprofits to think bigger, solve more problems and make life better in the neighborhoods we serve.”

To learn more about OceanFirst’s CommunityFirst Day or if you are a nonprofit or community organization in need of volunteers, please email Julie Bellezza at jbellezza@oceanfirstfdn.org.


OceanFirst’s beginnings

OceanFirst Bank N.A., founded in 1902, has a long-standing tradition of providing financial solutions for families and businesses, while delivering extraordinary customer care, and giving back to their neighbors.

OceanFirst is one of the largest and oldest community-based financial institutions headquartered in New Jersey and has grown to over $12 billion in assets serving customers in five states. OceanFirst Foundation was established in 1996 with the Bank’s conversion from a mutual to public ownership, the first foundation created in this manner. OceanFirst Foundation is a private entity with a mission of providing financial resources to charitable non-profit organizations helping its neighbors.

“With approval from the Bank’s depositors, OceanFirst became the first bank in the country to create a private foundation in conjunction with conversion to a public company,” said David C. Wintrode, President of Causeway Family of Dealerships/Causeway CARes.

Wintrode, who has served on the OceanFirst Foundation board for the last 21 years, notes that collaboration has always been key to OceanFirst’s success.