It's Wednesday morning in Red Bank and the is filling up fast with business people looking for more than fresh raspberry danishes and coffee, whose aroma helps newcomers find their way to the cafe inside The Galleria.
By 8:15 a.m. a group of 25 professionals and business owners has packed the narrow dining room for a twice-monthly breakfast meeting of the Navesink Business Group, formed by a handful of business people in 2006.
The meetings are quick and informal and follow the usual pattern of mix and mingle. After everyone is settled it's time for individual introductions to the group, a spotlight on a member business, this week Suzanne Stingo SMS Telecom Management and local happenings such as the and , plugged by Megan Prenderville of .
Some of the faces in the crowd are ones you'll find in other local groups such as and the Eatontown Industrial Park Association run by Anna Mayer of the Donato Group.
Each member gets a chance to plug his or her business, but in many cases they hardly needed to as fellow members jumped in to say, for instance, what an innovative gym is, or that Tina Bulwin of Flowers on Front "is a creative and innovative florist", or how Charli Bohm of gave Stingo a chic updo for her niece's wedding.
Two-year member Ellen Korpar, an independent health insurance broker in Red Bank, said it's the "synergy of the memberships" that keeps her coming back.
"We get to know each other and work together and socialize," she told Patch, while chatting with member Susan Patterson.
"Plus it's every two weeks," said Patterson of Ultrasonic Mobile Cleaning in Shrewsbury. "I see you guys more than I see my own siblings."
The group centers its networking around charitable efforts with groups like and , a national group that gives financial and other assistance to military families and wounded warriors.
At its most recent meeting, group leader Rob Lowe encouraged members to join Operation Homefront's back-to-school efforts with a purchase of a backpack filled with school supplies to be delivered to children of military personnel in the tri-state area.
Navesink Business Group member Joe Gavin of used his chance to address the group to ask the members to buy into an ad journal for an upcoming gala at the Two River Theater that will benefit Lunch Break. Gavin, who volunteers at the soup kitchen, said he was drawn in by the energy of the place. The same is true, he said, of Navesink Business Group.
Asked why he attends Navesink Business Group, Gavin said, "Leadership," referring to Lowe.
"He does a really good job of rallying people around good causes," he said. "Rob is really the heart and soul of it."
Gavin said group members have brought him referrals for his senior care business and that he has helped members who couldn't afford his services to find other options.
"They're good people and it's hard to find that type of camaraderie," he said.
The Navesink Business Group will meet again at the Danish Cafe at 8 a.m. Aug. 22. Click here for more information about joining.
More from NBG about Operation Homefront's back-to-school efforts:
The Tri-State chapter of Operation Homefront is gearing up for back-to-school. They have set a goal to distribute 3,000 backpacks with school supplies across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and the Navesink Business Group needs your help to support a great cause.
Although we have welcomed home many service members in the past six months, we have also said goodbye to approximately 2,000 from the Tri-State area. While we pray for their safe return, we have a responsibility to be prepared to help their families for the duration of their deployment.
For $12.72 you will provide a back pack stuffed with lots of essential school supplies to our soldier's families in need. Our goal is 1000 backpacks! We will keep you updated on our progress. 100% of the donations will go directly to Operation Homefront.
Please make check payable to Navesink Business Group by Aug. 27. You may mail your donation to Marie Barbero at Valley National Bank, 2124 Route 35 Holmdel, NJ 07733.
If you have any questions please contact Rob Lowe at email@example.com or Ken Scaggs @ 732-670-4587.
Operation Homefront is approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (C) (3) tax-exempt organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent provided by the law.