Every town could use a Mike Jurusz, and not just because he runs a killer oceanfront restaurant called Chef Mike’s ABG in Seaside Park, N.J. Jurusz gives back. In fact, the only activity he likes as much or more than running his 29-foot Baja called Kookin’ is helping people in need, and that means committing to more than 60 benefits a year.
Last Saturday, Jurusz supplied much of the food for the eighth annual Arcuri For SUDS—an acronym for Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba—charity fundraiser in Brick, N.J. The following day on the beach in front of his restaurant, he ran his own annual fundraiser for A Need We Feed, a charity he founded with his friend and restaurant supplies vendor Cliff Baker in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
What began back then as an operation to feed first-responders stranded on the New Jersey Shore barrier island Jurusz calls home, A Need We Feed has become a significant charity that produces and delivers hot meals for up to 1,500 veterans and the homeless people in the area four times a year. More than 500 people attended Sunday’s fundraiser, which raised approximately $15,000 for the cause and was held under three tents on strand.
“The weather was gorgeous—it was the best day of the year,” said Jurusz. “It was 80 degrees with lots of sunshine and no wind. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”
Thanks to an army of volunteers including chefs from other restaurants in the area working with donated raw materials, A Need We Feed delivers meals at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, as well as hosting an annual “summer barbecue.” Volunteers deliver those meals everywhere from veterans’ facilities to homeless shelters. The Christmas meal includes presents for the children involved and the Easter meal includes Easter baskets.
“The holidays can be the most depressing time of the year for a lot of people,” said Jurusz. “No one should be without a hot meal during the holidays. Food brings people together.”
Right now, Jurusz’s 29-foot V-bottom is out of commission while its 454-cubic-inch engines are being upgraded to make 500 hp. With his sidekick Tim Sharkey, a veteran performance-boating photographer who shoots most of his charitable events, Jurusz plans to tackle a full poker-run season in Kookin’ next year.
But that doesn’t mean he’ll be bailing on his cooking efforts, especially when it comes to his charity. He wouldn’t even consider doing less than he’s doing now—it’s simply not in his nature.
“Wherever there is a need, we will feed,” said Jurusz. “We take care of each other around here. That’s just what we do.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.