This Is Rutherford
This is Jacqueline Caroprese
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Rutherford is the town where Jacqueline (Bruno) Caroprese was born and raised and where she and her husband Brandon are raising their two children. These days Jacqueline works for the Borough of Rutherford doing Fire Data Entry for the Fire Department. Since 2015, Jacqueline has also been a firefighter with the Rutherford Fire Department.
Just two weeks ago, Jacqueline also became an Associate Member of the Sister of Dominic of Caldwell after two years of formation. The Sisters of Dominic follow this mission statement, "We, Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, are a community of vowed women religious responding to God’s call and united in our quest for the unfolding revelation of God. We preach the Word of God through our lives of contemplative prayer, study, and ministry in response to the needs of our time." Jacqueline's dedication, compassion, and desire to care for those who need assistance led her on the path to developing the non-profit organization, wGt, with two other women who share the same devotion to assisting others.
TIR: How did you create your own non-profit organization, wGt-NJ?
Jacqueline Caroprese: Karen, Lauren, and I are the co-founders of wGt (which stands for We Got This/ We God This). After serving for over 10 years it was time I started my own non-profit and I couldn’t have done it without two amazing women, Karen Coussolis and Lauren McMahon. We became a registered non-profit the day before my birthday this past year on May 19, 2020.
The mission of wGt is "to grow relationships by giving our time and love to the hungry, the deserving, and the unloved. To act as a vessel for those with hearts to give."
Karen Coussoulis, a Riverdale resident, is working full-time and raising her daughter. Karen’s sister, Lauren McMahon lives in Little Falls and works full time while raising her daughter. Jacqueline, a Rutherford resident, also works part-time while raising two children. However, in addition to their already busy lives, Karen, Lauren, and Jacqueline are the three women who continue to work together to make sure wGt-NJ supports the communities that need their services.
“I met Jacqueline through our children’s school in Montclair. I saw on social media what she was doing in Newark and asked if I could donate and help. The first time I went back in December 2018 I was HOOKED! I invited my sister (Lauren McMahon) to come and she was then hooked too. We always did things to give back growing up, however, this was very different and so hands-on. Over the next year, we all served together and started to increase our frequency there. We decided soon on that we wanted to do more and serve more and branch out into our own organization. When the pandemic hit and many organizations stopped serving, we increased our service and began our official non-profit,” explained Karen.
“From day one of meeting Jacqueline, you can see she has the heart to serve and it’s contagious. It was a PERFECT time for the three of us to form wGt because we all bring a unique set of skills to this partnership. We all have such a passion to serve and to grow wGt to do much much more. We are grateful to Jacquie for allowing us to serve with her because that is how wGt was formed. And now, the future holds SO much more as we grow and expand to more communities which allows us to serve more people,” Lauren McMahon told TIR.
TIR: You were originally part of the Friends in Need Foundation. What led you to the creation of the wGt-NJ?
JC: Yes, originally I was a lead coordinator for the Friends in Need Foundation (Newark Location) since 2011. This past year during COVID many organizations halted their efforts or changed locations. That’s Lauren, Karen, and I knew it was time to start our own non-profit organization.
TIR: Can you tell us more about the “Cardboard Stories Project”?
JC: I love doing cardboard stories. I do it once in a while and it gives our homeless friends an opportunity to tell a piece of their story on a piece of cardboard. You’d be surprised at what you learn!
TIR: Why is it important to you to help those who are struggling?
JC: Mother Teresa said, “ Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work...each one of them is Jesus in disguise. “
Her words always touch my heart and when I am amongst those struggling or those in need I feel the closest to God. They are the most appreciative, kind souls. More grateful than those who have everything.
Lauren McMahon told TIR, “I think it our responsibility to help others and give back to your community. I think you would hope that one day if you are down on your luck someone would lend a helping hand. If we can make an impact on just one person then everything we do is worth it.”
One of wGt’s Board members, Coleen Garabedian, a Rutherford resident, told TIR, “Jacqueline is so dedicated to serving others. It’s incredible and so inspiring! It’s so exciting to see how far wGt has come so quickly and amazing to know how many friends we have helped.”
TIR: How can people help those in need through wGt?
JC: There are so many ways to help! We have sponsorship programs, food, and volunteer sign-ups, monthly monetary donors, or simply just their prayers.
TIR: How do you get all of the donations to their destination each week?
JC: We are based right here out of Rutherford! You might see our graffitied bus driving around town! Two amazing graffiti artists from the city donated their time and talents to our bus. We also let all of our friends in need mark up our bus as well and anyone who comes to volunteer! We head to Newark (Peter Francisco Park) every Sunday and once mid-week. We will be expanding and adding more locations very soon as well as multiple vehicles to reach more people.
Click here to see a video tour of the graffitied wGt bus named “The Vessel”.
Lauren explained, “It’s a lot of work (running wGt) between working full-time jobs while continually preparing for our twice-weekly service runs. There is a LOT of coordination between donations, pickups, food runs, responding to inquiries, etc. But each week when we serve it’s ALL worth it. We have known these people for years and to see the direct impact we have on them is the most rewarding experience. Below is a quote from our friend Spike and these types of moments are why we do what we do.
'I hope we can stay in touch. U guys are so great. Thank you so much. I am so lucky to have met u people I can’t say how good I really felt around people like u guys. I will never forget u never. U guys gave me a new way to think.. I will definitely keep in contact...I will miss you guys really... I’m grateful.. LUV U'S 4EVER...' -Spike."
To follow WGT-NJ on Facebook, click here.
To learn how you can help support WGT-NJ through monetary donations (by using www.paypal.me/wegodthis), by purchasing items from the wGt Amazon wish lists, volunteering to supply food (lunches, baked goods, etc.), and/or your time, click here to access their full website.