Helping Young Mothers Thrive

Jaclyn had been working full-time, but still struggling to make ends meet. And despite her best efforts, she was evicted from her apartment.

Jaclyn CAFS 2019
Jaclyn received help from Children’s Aid and Family Services.

With a 3-year-old daughter to care for and nowhere to turn, she found a lifeline at Zoe’s Place, a program run by Children’s Aid and Family Services. A supportive home for pregnant teenagers and teen mothers and their children, Zoe’s Place provides assistance and guidance so individuals can access educational opportunities, job training, life and parenting skills, health care and employment as well as child care and individual mentoring.

Zoe’s Place provides free child care, and the young women who live in the home must either attend school or work full-time. In pursuit of a career path, 21-year-old Jaclyn went back to school to study skincare and makeup application. She enrolled her daughter, a bright, sociable child, in preschool, where she is thriving.

Jaclyn graduated from cosmetology school and is now a licensed esthetician. She recently began working full-time at a spa. She also is a certified makeup artist and promotes her services on social media with the goal of eventually owning her own salon.Jaclyn is grateful to have found Zoe’s Place and for the opportunities it has provided.

“I want my child to know she is safe and to have a good life. I want her to appreciate the gift we have been given and understand that not everyone has help like this,” she said.

It is because of the generous donations to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund that Children’s Aid and Family Services is able to provide housing and intensive support services for teenage mothers and their babies.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter or Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreaterNewarkHolidayFund.

This story originally appeared on nj.com

Newark Day Center works to get student help he needs to achieve

He is currently undergoing an Individual Education Program/Plan (IEP), which is a written plan that describes the programs and special services a student is required to follow in order to be successful.

The process began after his teacher, Ms. Osborne, reported that Kyle would wander off during large or small group activities. However, he would gravitate toward puzzles, the block and discovery areas of the classroom. When asked cognitive questions he would sit and smile yet never communicate. As time went on, Kyle started to lash out when it came to directives in the classroom.

Ms. Osborne kept anecdotal notes on his actions and she brought her concern to the family workers and the social worker. As a team they communicated with Kyle’s parents and encouraged them to speak with the child study team of Newark Public School. As the IEP progressed, they recommended evaluations that included educational, speech and occupational therapy assessments and an autism consultation.

A variety of therapists were assigned to help, including a personal aide to work with Kyle in the classroom. Accommodations that worked best for Kyle included sitting close to the teacher, prompting, and reminders of rules and routine throughout the day. He began to show progress, which made the teacher and his parents very happy. His tantrums were lessened as therapists, his parents and teacher worked to help him. In time, Ms. Osborne reported that Kyle was improving more every day. He began to communicate and interact more.

He sits in the front with Ms. Osborne as she teaches group activities, which helps him participate in activities.

The IEP process was a success as it helped Kyle and his family prepare for grade school. Those at the Newark Day Center are happy they were able to help get Kyle on track with his learning and child development.   

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

Family Service Bureau helps Essex man get his life back together

Like many teenagers, Sean began experimenting with marijuana and became a frequent user; however, it was not until his late 20s that he began using heroin. Around this time, Sean became involved in a relationship that turned abusive. The relationship came to a sudden end when Sean was arrested after defending himself from his abuser.

Upon his release from prison, he was referred to the Family Service Bureau of Newark for substance abuse treatment.

While the transition back into society was not easy, Sean did not use heroin again. Instead, he actively participated in his treatment, attending groups and individual counseling since early this year. During his time at the Family Service Bureau of Newark, Sean has found stable housing and regained employment and he now works to serve his community.

Though there is a strong stigma against counseling within the African American community, Sean has been open to the support and growth that counseling has provided for him. Sean has rebuilt his relationships with his family members and friends and he has started to develop a better understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like.

During his time in counseling, he has faced some recent losses, which has been challenging for him to cope with. Despite these losses, Sean continues to find ways to be a positive person and maintains his recovery. He has been able to see the benefits of attending counseling as he has learned to use it as a form of support in order to prevent himself from relapsing.

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

Newark Day Center, Fresh Air Fund help create memories

The sisters are energetic and smart and looked forward to attending camp. They loved learning new things, and meeting and making new friends while reconnecting with their old ones.

A break from the city and into an environment where they can run and play freely is what Janet was seeking for her daughters, but her household income was meager.

She had fond memories of going to camp herself as a child and loving it so much that she was never ready to return home. She wanted that same experience for her children. With the aid of the Fresh Air Fund it was made possible for the girls to have two weeks of day camp.

Niyea and Naziah enjoyed the bus ride every day to the camp site where they were able to see different farm animals and a pond along the way.

Once at camp they interacted with other campers in various activities, such as bike riding, nature/science, swimming, drama, board games, music and so much more. Niyea and Naziah often include their little sister while talking about their day to day activities.

Janet was pleased that her daughters enjoyed attending camp, and for the chance to be out of the city and in the quietness of nature, being a kid and not worrying about their surroundings. The girls would always have a lifetime of memories thanks to Fresh Air Fund.

A contribution to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund will continue to help support children and families during the holiday season.

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

Catholic Charities helps woman overcome alcoholism, mental illness

“I recall going to the doctor and my doctor immediately sent me to a detox unit. I got involved in an AA meeting where I learned about my alcoholism and addictions. They showed me what alcohol was doing to me physically and provided educational techniques on how to keep my sobriety,” said Gorrin, who lives in a MCG Residential program.

At the end of November 1990, Gorrin and her husband had gotten divorced and she was having a difficult time adjusting to being the single mother of a teenaged boy.

At the same time, she said, her son was rebelling for reasons that included attending a new school, his parents’ divorce, and new people in his life.

Things soon got worse. She learned that she had breast cancer and would need surgery shortly after Christmas. Following the surgery, she was physically well, but emotionally depressed. She said that before her divorce, she would drink occasionally. But one day she was feeling insecure, picked up a drink, and didn’t stop. Once she completed the MCG Residential program, Gorrin was referred to the CCAN/MCG MICA program, where she met her first case manager.

“She was more than a staff member, she was a good friend, no matter what time I needed her, she was there.  She took me to the hospital for additional support and while I was in the hospital, I was referred to CCAN/MCGBH Partial Care program where I began to learn about my second Illness (bipolar disorder),” Gorrin said.

Today, Gorrin knows more about herself and has an improved relationship with her son. The two speak every day and occasionally see each other on weekends. She also has improved her communication with her ex-husband.

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

Nutley Family Service Bureau Food Pantry shows the face of food insecurity

My friends and colleagues at work and church tell me that I am always trying to be super woman, trying to carry the world on my shoulders. As a mom and wife, I strive to protect and care for my family of seven and provide my children what they need.

Unfortunately, circumstance has brought my family to a point that what I could do was not enough. My husband lost his job last year and since then has been working temporary jobs with brief gaps of unemployment. This created a snowball effect of never catching up to bills, being in danger of losing our apartment, and the quandary of how we were going to get our oldest to college — our oldest who had more than earned her share of achievements in school. It was a very stressful time and being a working professional, I felt embarrassed and humbled to ask for help. But God intervened, and I am so glad I did ask.

The help we have received from Nutley Family Service Bureau has given my family a moment to catch our breath, a safety net for the times we needed some food, school supplies and gifts for the children. It is quite something to see the relief in your child’s eyes when they see you come home with backpacks filled with supplies for the school year, or when you take them shopping from gift cards you received from “The Three Kings” at Christmas. My children know we work very hard and thus expect just what they need. It is a huge joy when they are able to once in a while receive what they want.

And my children, being older, know that help comes from this organization. My husband breathes a sigh of relief when there is one less thing to worry about, one more thing to be grateful for.

It shows them that kindness is very much alive and this, I hope, inspires them to do great things one day that will leave another family with that glimmer of hope we received.

Thank you for all you do.

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

YCS helps single mom achieve

Veronica Artis-Bryant was 20 years old and a sophomore at Stevens Institute of Technology when she found out she was pregnant.

“It was a frightening time for me. I didn’t know where to turn or what I needed to do to be sure my baby would be born healthy,” she said.

Veronica was especially concerned about what to expect when giving birth. Her sister knew a nurse in the Essex YCS Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program and recommended the program to her. NFP provides comprehensive, in-home support by a registered nurse to first-time inner-city, pregnant women. The same nurse continues to support the mother and baby until her child’s second birthday.

“My nurse, Karen Burton, has been an important part of my life ever since (we met),” Veronica said. With Karen’s support, Veronica delivered a beautiful healthy baby girl named Sanai Lily, in December 2016.  

In addition to advising Veronica with all her medical concerns, Burton helped her find day care for the baby when she returned to work and school. She has been there to answer Veronica’s questions about the baby’s development, and has been a compassionate ear when Veronica is troubled by relationship issues.

“Karen has been with me every step of the way and because of her recommendation I was offered a paid internship with a local business that specializes in the production of high-end hardware.

“I was so excited. Someone believed in me,” Veronica said. “She said the internship has boosted her self-esteem and given her confidence to pursue a major in mechanical engineering and design.  

“Karen is so much more than a nurse. She is my friend. I share everything with her and trust her advice and judgment,” said Veronica, adding, “I am proof that with a little support and encouragement a young Newark mom can make it.”  

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

The Newark Holiday Fund touches thousands of lives

Anthony Azevedo was born and raised in Newark. He attended its schools and runs his business there. It’s a city that he knows and loves, so when he got the opportunity to work with the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, the decision was easy.

“I think it was a natural fit for me,” Azevedo said. “We were looking for something to contribute to and give back to, and I always knew about the Greater Newark Holiday Fund by seeing ads in The Star-Ledger, so it was a natural fit, growing up where I grew up.”

Serving the area for more than 80 years, the Greater Newark Holiday Fund began in 1937 as a gift drive for children of Newark’s neighborhoods. Today, it helps families and individuals in Essex, Union, Passaic, Hudson, Morris and Bergen counties by providing funds to area service organizations.

The fund primarily raises money from November through February, but accepts donations from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31 each year. Donations are received from larger businesses as well as from individuals.

After spending several years involved in the fund, two years ago as its treasurer, Azevedo was asked to step in to serve as president for 2018.

Anthony Azevedo

“I’m so proud to be a part of an organization that’s heading into its 81st year. There’s a lot to be said about that, all the good the organization does is seen by the donors. Even if it’s $5 or $10, people have been donating to it their entire lives, and they see the value of it.”

Azevedo will be joined by Honorary Chairman Angelo Genova, chairman and managing partner of Genova Burns LLC.

“As someone who is closely tied to Newark, I know what wonderful work the fund does throughout the year to help those less fortunate in northern New Jersey. This is an invaluable opportunity to grow awareness around a pervasive and all too often overlooked issue in our community,” Genova said.

Angelo J. Genova, Esq.

Azevedo, managing member with Pereira & Azevedo, LLC, a CPA firm located in Newark, and Liberty Payroll Solutions, LLC, said he has high hopes for this year’s fundraising campaign. He set a goal of $400,000, which will go toward 10 charities — Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, Children’s Aid & Family Services, FAMILYConnections, Family Service Bureau of Newark, Family Service League, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest New Jersey, Newark Day Center, Nutley Family Service Bureau,  Urban League and Youth Consultation Service (YCS).

In addition, the New Jersey Devils are planning to hold an event on Dec. 1 designed to raise awareness of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund and to raise money for the charity. During that night, the fund will receive half the proceeds of a 50/ 50 event.

“It’s great recognition for us, they put us on the jumbotron, and it’s been great during the past few years,” Azevedo said.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at twitter.com/HolidayFundNJ or and Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreaterNewarkHolidayFund.

To listen to the podcasts, visit the Facebook page and selected videos.  

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org.

The Newark Holiday Fund helps the lives of thousands

John Nietzel knows 2017 was a big year.

But he also knows more can always be done. As president of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, Nietzel, along with honorary chairman Marc Berson, chairman of the Fidelco Group, oversaw a fundraising campaign that brought in $372,446, which will be used to help nine charities: Catholic Charities, Children’s Aid & Family Services, Family Service Bureau of Newark, FAMILYConnections, Newark Day Center, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey, Youth Consultation Service (YCS) and Family Service League.

These groups help individuals and families who need help with food, shelter, clothing, substance abuse, mental health, job training, domestic violence prevention, support for child care, parenting  and child care skills, women empowerment programs and more; and money raised through the Greater Newark Holiday Fund is indispensable to their good work.

“The (GNHF) board members worked extremely hard this year partnering with NJ.com and Big Click, a social media company,” Nietzel said. “We were able to expand our reach and create new relationships, which we look forward to growing in coming years.”

Berson said he was impressed with the efforts of the GNHF volunteers. “This is my first year actively involved, and I got to really know those involved,” he said. The sincerity and energy and creativity they have. They’re really trying to pick up new approaches and working on ways to grow the base. I think it’s wonderful, and I’m very appreciative of everyone’s help.”

Now in its 80th year, the Greater Newark Holiday Fund began in 1937 as a gift drive for children of Newark’s neighborhoods. Today, it helps families and individuals in Essex, Union, Passaic, Hudson, Morris and Bergen counties by providing funds to area service organizations.

The Fund raises money every year from November through February, with donations coming in from larger businesses as well as from individuals. In fact, Nietzel said about 50 percent of the amount raised comes through smaller, individual donations.

“I want to thank everyone for their hard work, especially the teams at the agencies. They truly are doing God’s work. And I want to thank everybody who made a donation. With your support we were able to reach out through our partners at nine social service agencies and help people in need.”

Berson said he was honored to be asked to work with this year’s campaign. Berson has a long history of working with the community. He has been involved with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center since its inception, has been involved with the Beth Israel Medical Center for more than 16 years, is vice chairman of RWJBarnabas Health, and has been chair of the Opportunity Project.

“It’s wonderful,” Berson said about the agencies. “The things they do and accomplish, my hat’s off to them. It’s sincere, and they’re helping the people who really do need the help. And for that, I feel honored to be able to help in some way and be a participant.”

Board members for 2017 include Marc Berson, chairman, The Fidelco Group; John Nietzel, senior vice president, Investors Bank; Sam Garruto, CPA; Frank Ferruggia, Esq., McCarter & English, LLP; Anthony Azevedo, partner, Pereira & Azevedo, LLC; Jason Altman, regional vice president, Enterprise Holdings; Desarie Ball, senior accountant, Floyd D. Townsend & Associates; Colleen DeNoto, vice president corporate counsel, The Prudential Insurance Company; Kelly Erhardt-Wojie, partner, Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer; Michael Gilfillan, president, Brick City Sports Capital, LLC; Calvin Ledford, director, External Affairs, PSEG; Jim Leonard, senior vice president, NJ Devils/Prudential Center; Philip Lipper, executive vice president, Jones Lang LaSalle; Marie Mathews, member Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC; Jennifer Mazawey, partner, Genova Burns; Michael Petrucci, vice president/area manager, The Provident Bank; Isabel Rodrigues, financial services representative, Mass Mutual Financial Group; Beatrice Romao, retail market manager, TD Bank; Betty Spiropoulos, senior branch manager, Investors Bank; and Ted Zangari, Esq., Sills Cummis & Gross.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter and on Facebook. To listen to their podcasts, visit their Facebook page and selected videos.

To make a donation to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, visit holidayfund.org. This story is sponsored by Investors Bank. Visit myinvestorsbank.com.

— John Saccenti