By Adina Genn, LIBN
When a U.S. veteran on Long Island needed support, several local nonprofits joined forces to help.
The organizations collaborated in an effort to assist AnnMarie Ayers, a veteran who had served in the U.S. Navy. After her military service, Ayers had struggled with not only cancer, but also military post-traumatic stress disorder and a layoff triggered by the pandemic.
CMM Cares, a Ronkonkoma-based nonprofit, was among the organizations ready to assist. Founded in 2019, the organization says it was built on the belief that by bringing the Long Island community together, it can make a “huge difference in the lives of its neighbors.” So when Ayers was nominated for the CMM Care’s Adopted Family Program, the organization got took note.
Ayers was able to keep her family in their home through a mortgage remodification program she learned about from UnitedWay of Long Island. John Diaz, United Way’s director of community impact, guided Ayers’ through the process and then took that assistance a step further by nominating her for the CMM Cares program.
Members of CMM Cares developed a program that specifically addressed the challenges Ayers was facing.
“It’s incredible the impact we can make by working together, pooling our resources and combining our efforts as nonprofit and for profit organizations,” Joe Campolo, chairman of the board at CMM Cares, said in a statement.
“Individually nonprofits help many, together we can change lives,” he added. “We look forward continuing to help those in need, one Long Island family at a time.”
Each year CMM Cares supports three to four Long Island families in need. After hearing Ayers’ story, the organization was determined to further help her get back on her feet and make a lasting impact on her life.
CMM Cares approved a customized support plan designed to provide Ayers with both short-term and long-term assistance. In addition to purchasing immediate household necessities, the organization helped her create a long-term plan to pay down her debt and get ahold of her finances, which was a factor in her PTSD recovery.
CMM Cares then introduced Ayers to Lisa Gatti, CEO of Islandia-based Pal-O-Mine Equestrian.
Gatti welcomed Ayers into Pal-O-Mine’s military program, which includes equine-assisted psychotherapy sessions. As an Eagala Designated Program, they have Eagala-certified professionals on site with specialized training and experience working with the military community. Its onsite Eagala certified professionals who are specialized training and experience working with the military community. Through the program, Ayers spends time at the farm, building relationships with the horses to reduce anxiety and find peace from her military PTSD.
Ayers was also gifted a complete solar energy system donated by SUNation Energy’s not-for-profit SUNation Cares.
SUNation CEO Scott Maskin, who serves as a board member for CMM Cares, stepped in to help alleviate some of the Ayers’ monthly expenses. Once completed and connected, this renewable energy system is designed to aid Ayers and her family with lower monthly electricity bills and more control over their energy. Through the donation of 21 solar panels, along with equipment and labor for the installation, this solar energy system will generate approximately 5,344 watts of energy annually. This is estimated to offset about 74% of the Ayers home energy use and greatly reduce their monthly electricity costs, according to CMM Cares.
Also collaborating on supporting Ayers was Salvatore Ferro, a councilman at Town of Huntington.