The Jersey City and Hoboken Rotary Clubs teamed up to fundraise for the 5th annual Memorial Mission to Boca Chica, where the proceeds go towards purchasing equipment for the fire department of the Dominican Republic town.
“This started five years ago, when I went on vacation with my buddy Ralph [Eusebio, Jr.] to Boca Chica,” began Branco, a Hoboken Rotary Club member, at a fundraising event at La Mexicana in Jersey City Tuesday night.
“And at that time, the Hoboken Rotary was just doing their fire [victim fundraiser] event, I think it was the 300 Washington Street fire, and when Ralph was showing me the firehouse in Boca Chica – and how they just named his father an honorary fire captain there – he gave me a tour and I said ‘ya know, we can help out, we can make this firehouse better than what it is.”
Branco added that the idea began to take off right away, with FRC Fire Research, a top manufacturer of state-of-the-art fire rescue equipment, donated two truck loads to the cause.
Their efforts were so well-received in Boca Chica that the local government made July 18th Hoboken Firefighter Day: the proclamation was displayed in the right hand corner of the venue across from the entrance of the venue.
Although Ralph Eusebio, Sr., passed away last year, Branco explained that the cause lives on his honor, noting that BDP International, a global logistics and transportation company, has already donated a 40-foot container ahead of the July 17 trip.
Ralph Eusebio, Jr., a Hoboken firefighter, said that one of his father’s last requests to him was to continue the Mission to Boca Chica – where the elder Eusebio was a volunteer firefighter.
“This is something that he wanted done right before he passed away: he asked if I can do it again and I remember the day I called Joe and said ‘are you interested in doing this again?’ and he said, without any hesitation, he said ‘what do you need?’”
Eusebio, Jr. thanked Branco for taking care of all of the logistics of this year’s trip, as well as the Jersey City and Hoboken Rotary Clubs. He also briefly brought his mom into the program to acknowledge what the event was really about.
“I’m doing this to remind her that, my dad, her husband, his memory is still alive,” he said, before his mother responded with a “gracias” and gave him a big kiss on the cheek.
The Eusebio family is from Boca Chica and Ralph Eusebio, Sr. lived just a short walk from the local firehouse before his passing in 2016.
Dignitaries who stopped in to support the cause included Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31), Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro, Hoboken Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5) and Guttenberg Councilman/mayoral candidate Wayne Zitt.