When Patriotism Meets Community Outreach
You may be curious as to why a blue Dodge has been parading the streets of East Haven neighborhoods over the past few months. Behind the cheerful music and wavering American flags is a heartwarming effort to provide the community with relief during these less than ideal times. With his East Haven Proud USA Truck, Michael Roy is helping to bring residents together, lift spirits, and give back to those in need.
Michael gathered inspiration from social media prior to bringing the effort into fruition; a DJ truck in the midwest and a friend expressing their loneliness was all he needed to get his wheels turning. At the start of the stay-at-home order, Michael began to drive his vehicle around town while blasting patriotic music. In doing so, he hoped to let others know that they were not alone and ultimately bring a smile to their faces. As a former Marine who served in Iraq, he completely understands the amazing impact that a simple USA tune can have on others. McDermott Chevrolet, a local car dealership, reached out to Michael early on to see how they could contribute. In support of his effort, they donated a truck equipped with lettering and patriotic attire that he could use while doing his neighborhood rounds. From there, it totally took off. So many East Haven residents looked forward to seeing Michael and his “Pride Truck” during the week. In turn, he decided to form a Facebook page that kept track of the locations that he would be visiting. The Rosarios are one of many families who were touched by Roy’s ride-arounds. Kayla Rosario, a junior at EHHS, mentioned, “When my family and I heard music blaring from down the street, we knew exactly who it was from seeing videos on social media. Immediately, we ran outside with our phones to record him driving by. While recording, we felt a sense of pride. We knew that we were one of the few towns doing things like this to comfort our citizens, and it made us feel proud to live in such a connected community.” As the truck gained more popularity, Michael even made appearances at various birthday drive-by parades! There is no doubt that the East Haven community has only strengthened since the birth of this project. The “Pride Truck” has the ability to brighten so many individuals’ days as it marches through the streets.
This effort was taken one step further through the creation of a GoFundMe page. With help from so many East Haven citizens, Michael has been able to collect funds for local first responders, organizations, and emergency groups while he is out on the road. In addition, he also engages in a contact-free process in which residents are able to donate items to the food pantry and animal shelter. Dianne Romans, president of the East Haven Food Pantry, cannot express how grateful she is for both Michael and those who are contributing to the fundraiser. She exclaimed, “I think what Michael Roy is doing
with his pride truck is amazing. He started off with driving around neighborhoods in East Haven playing music and making people smile, dance, and offer a glimmer of happiness during this craziness. I asked him why he decided to do what he is doing and his response was 'I have a heart.' The outpouring of support the East Haven community has given to the food pantry is beyond what I could have ever imagined.” Amongst others, the Pride Truck has distributed $500 to the Food Pantry (on top of tangible donations), $50 gift cards to three fire stations, $300 to the East Haven Animal Shelter, and free masks to those around town who need them!
Unfortunately, there are so many businesses and individuals that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Michael’s project has not only provided relief during these difficult times but has also raised optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Efforts such as these are incredibly important to our society, as there are so many organizations that do not get the recognition/assistance that they deserve. With this, good deeds keep us unified! EHHS Junior Siya Patel said it best: “Community pride is what will help us get through these tough times and prevail. It takes some stress off of everyone and allows one to appreciate our community and its efforts. More of these efforts will allow us to overcome adversity together; they provide affirmation that it will get better.” The East Haven community is so grateful for Michael Roy’s East Haven Proud USA Truck and cannot wait to see how it will continue to grow in the future!