Monthly Archives: October 2021

Newark Day Center

For more than 139 years, the Greater Newark Fresh Air Fund, run by Newark Day Center, has been making it possible for inner-city kids from Newark to enjoy camping experiences. 

That’s a lot of campfires. 

More importantly, that’s a lot of children — through the fun and work of camping — to learn the skills needed to lead happy, successful lives.

But that’s not all that Newark Day Center does for the community. 

The Newark Day Center Mission

The Newark Day Center is passionate about advocating for those in need and helping learn the skills they need to succeed. That’s accomplished by providing a variety of comprehensive services to children, youth, adults, and seniors. 

Services Provided 

  • The Center conducts training for individuals seeking entry-level Child Development Associate credentials (CDA) in conjunction with the Early Childhood Institute.
  • The Parent Aid Program provides support services and resources to parents, like clothing, furniture, food and other household supplies. 

Make ONE DONATION to the Holiday Fund and support 10 life-changing organizations in New Jersey.

About the daily happenings at the busy center, Donna Johnson-Thompson, EdD, Executive Director, said:

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my long career with Newark Day Center has been the opportunity to meet wonderful people along the way. Starting with the little learners who brighten our doors each day; to young parents committed to being the best they can be; to tireless grandparents; and to our supporters who come in all shapes and sizes.”

There’s never a dull moment at the NDC. 

The Organization’s History

The Newark Day Center was founded in 1803 as the Newark Female Charitable Society, begun by a group of distinguished ladies in the community. 

The original plan and primary goal of the society was simple: 

Helping people gain employment by training them in new skills and by providing both the means and materials to earn a living. 

In other words, helping people learn how to help themselves. That mission is still being accomplished every single day at NDC.

Community Impact

Did you know that many of the local social services agencies in existence today can trace their origins to Newark Day Center? 

  • United Way of Essex and West Hudson
  • American Red Cross of Newark
  • Newark Boys and Girls Scouts
  • Conference of Jewish Charities
  • Salvation Army,
  • Newark Beth Israel, St. Barnabas, and Presbyterian Hospitals

To learn more about services provided by NDC, or to inquire about volunteering, visit the Newark Day Center’s website

Family Connections

High angle portrait of people sitting in circle during therapy session in support group

Far too many people and families in New Jersy communities struggle with serious challenges—from trauma and mental illness to addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse. 

Family Connections (FC) is here to make sure no one has to face these challenges alone. They deliver a wide range of services across Northern New Jersey, including:

  • Counseling
  • Prevention and training
  • Family bonding
  • Family reunification
  • Social-emotional skills-building

The highly-trained staff is committed to excellence, bringing their many skills and big hearts to work every day – not only in their offices, but on-site in schools and directly in the home. They work with people as they define their own needs, goals, and plans for better lives so that thousands of children, teens, mothers, fathers, veterans, seniors, and others can heal and succeed in school, work, and life.

Teen Impacted by Family Connections

New Jersey teenager Ava reflects on the changes she’s experienced since attending Family Connections’ Outpatient Counseling and Outreach to At-Risk Youth:

“In 6th grade, my great-grandfather died. I was acting out, getting suspended, getting into a lot of stuff, and not talking about what was going on inside me. I kept it all inside.

I’m a very emotional person and my counselors at Family Connections helped me understand my feelings. I don’t break down like I used to. I learned to express myself through talking and writing poetry and not through getting into trouble.

Now I have confidence in myself and I’m doing better in school. I’m a strong person after all I’ve been through. If Family Connections didn’t turn me around and help me find my strength, I’d probably be in big trouble now.”

When asked what advice she’d give to other young people who are struggling, she said: 

“Kids should know: You’re not alone. You need to talk to someone who listens and makes you happy. And express how you feel. If you draw, then draw. If you sing, then sing.”

Data-Driven Results

Ava is one of many NJ residents who have been introduced to life-changing resources through Family Connections. 

Data has shown success in every single area measured. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Family Connections ProgramMeasurement GoalActual
Clean and Cool (adolescent substance abuse treatment andlife skills training):Participating youth will have no new reports of high-risk/criminal behavior
Clean and Cool:Youth who attend at least three sessions will achieve abstinence.75%97%
OTARY (Outreach to At-Risk Youth)Participating youth will have no new reports of high-risk/criminal behavior.80%81%
DREAMS Program for children exposed to domestic violenceParticipating children will show improved emotional, cognitive, and behavioral functioning.70%90%
DREAMS:Participating families will demonstrate improved family bonding and communications.70%100%

These statistics are impressive, but Family Connections has another way to summarize the success of the individuals who participate in their 35 programs:

One human being at a time.

Make ONE DONATION to the Holiday Fund and support 10 life-changing organizations in New Jersey.

Increasing Impact

In the past decade, the number of people participating in Family Connections’ services has quadrupled to more than 4,000 per year. Family Connections rigorously tracks data across programs, measuring both the soft and hard impact of the work. They are:

  • Decreasing child abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness
  • Increasing social and coping skills, school success, employability and family bonding

Family Connections History

Family Connections started in 1879 as the Orange Registry Society. They loaned out horses and wagons from our stable and offered volunteers and food to families who’d fallen on hard times. After 140 years, one merger, and a couple of name changes, they are still in the business of making hope possible by supporting neighbors in need and strengthening communities.

Family Connections’ Mission and Vision

Growth happens every day at FC. With counseling, skills-building, training and prevention services, people take control of their own healing and foster connections that make the entire community stronger, safer, and healthier.

Family Connections see a world where no one faces life’s challenges alone—where we all have the opportunities, connections, and resources we need to thrive.

Core Values

We are inclusive.

FC honors the diverse backgrounds of the people they work with, centering everything on their identities and lived experiences⁠ — across race, gender identity, economic status, sexual orientation, religion, education, disability, age, and more.

We are strengths-based.

Everyone has inherent strengths. By identifying and building on those strengths, clients create their own paths to wellness and success.

We are relationship-driven.

FC believes that connections—whether to family, friends, or community—are the foundation for the physical, emotional, and psychological health of every person.

We are outcome-oriented.

FC pursues positive outcomes for clients and are committed to research-based approaches with proven records of success.

We are collaborative.

FC believes that we are at our best when we work together, look after one another, and foster partnerships across sectors to give our greatest to the people around us.

Make a Difference By Volunteering 

Volunteering can be as simple as re-posting Family Connections news to your social media feed, as hands-on as becoming a homework helper at a school-based program, or as skill-specific as helping with finances and human resources. 

Get details on the Family Connections page

Since 1879, Family Connections has proven that communities thrive when everyone is invested in each other’s well being. When you connect with them, you’re building a stronger, safer, and healthier New Jersey.  

Learn more about the impact they’re making in New Jersey on the Family Connections website.

Youth Consultation Service

Each day, Youth Consultation Service (YCS) provides services to thousands of New Jersey families who have children with special needs. 

Some of the children at YCS’s group homes are separated from their loved ones and have been affected by trauma, others are affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities that adversely affect their behavior. 

Many families receive the intensive in-home and community support that enables their families to stay together. 

Whatever the need, the caring YCS staff is prepared to offer individualized educational, mental health and/or behavioral health programming to families and children, birth – adulthood, with special needs. 

How YCS Services Changed A Life

When Bruce was a child, his life was wrought with struggles. He suffered abuse, displacement, and extreme disappointment. As a result, his anger had turned into rage, and he struggled to manage his emotions. 

Through YCS services, Bruce connected with a special home administrator who has become a life-long friend. Eventually, Bruce was placed with YCS foster parents — the same parents who were found beaming at Bruce’s recent wedding. 

Read more about Bruce’s story on the Youth Consultation Services website

Youth Consultation Services Programs


Services to children with autism are provided through the YCS Sawtelle Services. Resources include the Learning Center, preschool, and residential care, all provided with a unique approach that focuses on each individual’s strengths, abilities and needs.

Watch an interview with Sawtell staff.


Foster parents may all look very different, yet they all share a heart that is prepared to give a child understanding, patience, compassion, empathy, guidance, a strong arm to lean on and a warm embrace when times are tough.


The YCS Educational Division serves students, grades K–8, with diverse behavioral issues at the YCS George Washington School in Bergen County. Classified students come to the YCS schools through Child Study Team referrals or residential placements when a structured program is needed. The YCS-Sawtelle Learning Center in Montclair offers outstanding educational and related services for students with autistic spectrum disorder, ages 3-21. 


The YCS Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health, established in 2000, provides training, consultation and clinical services related to infants, toddlers, preschool-age children and their families. 


YCS offers an array of nurturing therapeutic, and life skills teaching residences

for children, teens and young adults with emotional/behavioral health challenges,

developmental and intellectual disabilities. 

  • Psychiatric Children’s Homes
  • Residential Treatment Centers
  • Intensive Residential Treatment Centers
  • Emergency Diagnostic / Crisis Stabilization Center
  • Sawtelle Residential Program
  • Sawtelle Homes for children with developmental/intellectual disabilities and Behavioral challenges.
  • Specialized Treatment Centers


YCS’s services span the vast needs represented in New Jersey, including:

Make ONE DONATION to the Holiday Fund and support 10 life-changing organizations in New Jersey.

How It All Began

In 1918, YCS originated from the church mission of help of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for abandoned women and children. By ‘32, the emphasis shifted to counseling young people through provision of a broad range of services.

In 2021, YCS served 2,675 children and families through their 57 programs. 

Volunteer With YCS

There are several ways to volunteer at YCS, including serving as a mentor, joining the advisory council, organizing a fundraising drive, just to name a few. 

Check out the detailed volunteer opportunities page for more information. 

After more than 100 years of service, YCS continues to find new ways to support, empower, and uplift New Jersey families.

Learn more about the impact YCS is having on the Greater Newark Area when you visit the Youth Consultation Services website.

Children’s Aid and Family Services

Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) strengthens families and empowers individuals — children and adults alike — to reach their fullest potential. 

Through four areas of service, CAFS is strengthening families and building independence:

  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Adoption and Foster Care
  • Children and Family Services
  • The Center For Drug and Alcohol Resources

How One Person’s Life Has Changed

It was through CAFS’s Center For Drug and Alcohol Resources that Erick got clean.

He developed an addiction to painkillers and, when he hit rock bottom and ended up in the emergency room, he met a CAFS worker named Maria.

When he completed his detox treatment and left his residential treatment home, his first call was to Maria. She quickly connected him with an AA sponsor.

A year later, Erick is enthusiastic about his recovery and working hard to maintain his sobriety. Maria describes Erick as “on fire” with passion to stay clean.

Read more about Erick’s story on the CAFS website.

For more than 120 years, Children’s Aid and Family Services (founded as Children’s Aid and Protective Society of the Oranges) has been changing lives. 

From Concerned Mothers to Concerned Citizens

At its emergence in 1899, Children’s Aid was staffed entirely by volunteers, mostly concerned mothers who would ride in horse and carriage to rescue abandoned and orphaned children

What began as a group of caring citizens with a commitment to vulnerable children has grown into an organization that has placed more than 11,000 little ones with loving, nurturing adoptive families. 

Make ONE DONATION to the Holiday Fund and support 10 life-changing organizations in New Jersey.

CAFS is guided by Margaret Mead’s words: 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

CAFS’s Mission

Children’s Aid and Family Services strengthens families and empowers individuals – children and adults alike – to reach their fullest potential. Motivated by compassion and in partnership with the community, they make positive lasting differences in the lives of those served. They provide high-quality, innovative services to children, adults, and their families that advance social, educational and emotional development and wellbeing.

Fulfilling The Mission

CAFS focuses on identifying the problem and creatively developing solutions. Here are just a few examples. 


Over 3,200 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are on a waitlist for support services, including housing, day programs, after-school care and in-home support. Some of these individuals are currently living without any social interaction or outside experiences and some even live as shut-ins. Without social and skill-building programs they make little or no progress.


Children’s Aid and Family Services has opened its eighth community home for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, lifting the burden from parents and families unable to care for their loved ones. THe STRIVE day program fosters independence, personal growth and essential life skills so adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can reach their potential and experience fuller lives. The after-school and weekend respite provide enriching activities for members and mentoring and support services for their families.


In 2017, more than 69,000 children across the country were waiting to be adopted from foster care. The average age of a foster child waiting to be placed with a new family is 8, and it takes two to five years for the majority of these children and adolescents to be adopted. Sadly, 20% wait even longer or “age out” of the system with little or no support.


Adoption is a life-changing experience for parents and children, and CAFS offers a variety of services to support families through this challenging and rewarding process.


The statistics on the impact of alcohol and drug misuse are alarming. Teens who start consuming alcohol before age 15 are seven times more likely to experience drinking-related problems than people who begin drinking after turning 21. Opioid overdoses are on the rise and on average, eight people a day will die from an overdose in New Jersey. The disease of addiction takes a toll on both the individual and their family, who often struggle to help their loved one.


The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources is a recognized leader in prevention and recovery. The Center provides extensive resources, information, expertise and support around prevention of alcohol and drug misuse while providing recovery support in our community. CAFS has programs, services and workshops for people of all ages to strengthen families and promote healthy lifestyles.

Because of solutions like these, CAFS can report successful outcomes.


  • 100% of teenagers in CAFS’s care have graduated high school since 2009.
  • Drug and alcohol prevention education provided to over 12,000 adults and teens yearly.
  • 11,000 children have been placed in loving, adoptive homes.
  • Over one-and-a-half million diapers have been provided to families in need.

Volunteer Opportunities

Want to play a part in the work of CAFS? Check out the volunteer page on the website

Learn more about the impact they’re making in New Jersey on the Children’s Aid and Family Services website.