Monthly Archives: February 2023

The Essential Role of an Advocate in Healing After Sexual Assault

Brad’s story is a powerful one — of being sexually assaulted during his first semester at college, far away from home and feeling alone and ashamed.

The Family Service League Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate provided much-needed support and encouragement, informing Brad that he was not to blame for the assault and there were many resources available. These included forensic evidence collection and reporting to local police with the aid of the advocate, as well as clothing, water, food, and toiletries to help restore Brad’s dignity.

Finally, Brad learned of his rights and resources at school that helped him feel safe so he could continue his education. 

Without advocates like these, victims often feel isolated and unaware of the services available to them. The care and support of an advocate is essential for any survivor’s healing process.

When you donate to the Holiday Fund, you are helping victims like Brad feel safe and supported. Every service agency we partner with is committed to making futures brighter in New Jersey.

Will you join us? Learn more when you visit

Original story taken from

The Impact of Mental Health Support: Erasmo’s Story

Erasmo, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and experienced homelessness multiple times due to his illness, was stabilized at Meadowview Hospital before being admitted to the Catholic Charities/Mount Carmel Guild residential program in Union City. 

While in the program, he attended groups for education about his mental health, learned the importance of taking medication, and developed skills to cope with his feelings. He graduated from the Partial Care program in 2018 and has served as a role model for other residents at Union City residences. In the eight years Erasmo has been a resident in the group home, he has not been hospitalized for another mental health crisis.

This is what he says about his home at the Union City residence:

“This place has brightened up my life and eased the pain of being homeless,” he said. “I feel braver about my life. I have people who help me. I know that I can utilize my counselors, staff, and doctors.”

Erasmo credits Catholic Charities/Mount Carmel Guild for providing him with care and support and allowing him to face realities without experiencing another mental health crisis.

Are you or someone you love experiencing a mental health crisis? Our partners at Catholic Charities are available to help. Learn more about this dedicated agency at

Original story taken from

Finding Hope and Strength in Counseling: Sean’s Story

Introducing Sean, a man who is committed to his recovery and found critical assistance through one of our partner agencies, the Family Service Bureau of Newark (FSB). Here’s a glimpse into his story.

From experimenting with marijuana in his teens to using heroin in his late 20s, Sean was eventually arrested for defending himself against an abusive partner. 

The Family Service Bureau of Newark provided him with the support he needed to transition back into society without reverting to drugs. With their help, Sean has found stable housing and employment and works to serve his community.

Despite the counseling stigma within the African American community, Sean found strength and growth through it, developing healthier relationships and understanding what a healthy relationship looks like. 

Today, Sean remains positive and committed to recovery, learning how attending counseling can be beneficial as support against relapse.

When you donate to the Holiday Fund, you help organizations like FSB provide support and services to children in New Jersey.

Will you donate today? Visit and select ‘donate’ (or ‘link in bio 👉 @holidayfundnj’)

Every contribution makes an impact!

Original story taken from

Through Family Connections, Kristine Rediscovers Her Strength Amidst Trauma

Shortly after moving to New Jersey, Kristine experienced a huge change in her smart, handsome husband. He became physically and verbally abusive and it didn’t pass as she had hoped. When they later had three children together, things only got worse. 

As the abuse continued, and Kristine noticed similar behaviors in her 3-year-old son, she also discovered infidelity and other offenses. Finally, she decided to leave with her children. 

Despite the relief of being free of him, she had to find help for her three children who had endured severe trauma at the hands of their father. Not to mention, she had a long road ahead of her as she worked through her trauma and inevitable court battle.

Thankfully, she didn’t need to figure it all out on her own. Kristine and her kids started individual and family counseling at Family Connections’ Domestic Violence program, Dreams. Through art therapy and counseling, they worked to improve her children’s self-esteem, assisted them in processing their emotions, and helped them in realizing that they weren’t at fault for their violent father’s actions.

Three of Kristine’s kids are still receiving and benefiting from outpatient counseling through Family Connections even though their time at Dreams is over. 

This New Jersey mother is grateful to have a happy ending to her story thanks to the assistance of Family Connections. We are proud to partner with Family Connections and play a role in supporting families like Kristine’s.

Original story taken from

Success Story: Mia’s Quick Recovery Thanks to Children’s Aid and Family Services

It’s very common for children under the care of Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) to have already experienced 6-10 placements. As a result, there’s little to no medical history recorded, and few ever see the same doctor twice. 

So, when chronically ill Mia needed medical care, we are thankful for the CAFS Medical Services and Advocacy Center, whose staff have trusting relationships with the children and make sure kids still have access to high-quality medical attention. 

When 12-year-old Mia had been experiencing low-grade fevers and other symptoms while living in one of the agency’s foster care group homes, blood tests showed she may have had sickle cell anemia. Thankfully, an attentive endocrinologist ran further tests which revealed that it was actually just a viral infection, avoiding a much more serious diagnosis. With rest and fluids, Mia made a full recovery soon after.

Thanks to the Children’s Aid and Family Services’ Medical Services and Advocacy Center, deserving kids have access to comprehensive healthcare, allowing them to receive timely diagnoses and treatments that can improve their quality of life.

When you donate to the Holiday Fund, you help organizations like CAFS provide support and services to children in New Jersey.

Will you donate today? Visit and select ‘donate’ (or ‘link in bio 👉 @holidayfundnj’)

Every contribution makes an impact!

Original story taken from

The Power of Supporting Young Mothers: Veronica’s Story

When Veronica Artis-Bryant was a 20-year-old sophomore at Stevens Institute of Technology, she discovered she was pregnant. Scared and unsure of her future, she found support and guidance through the Essex YCS Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program. 

Her NFP nurse, Karen Burton, provided support and care for Veronica and her baby for two years. YCS offers this free program, connecting first-time, inner-city mothers with compassionate registered nurses.

Not only did Burton help with medical concerns but also provided emotional support, enabling Veronica to get a paid internship at a hardware production business. This opportunity boosted Veronica’s confidence and motivated her to pursue a major in mechanical engineering and design.

In the end, Veronica is proof that with a little support and encouragement, young mothers can make it.

When you donate to the Holiday Fund, you help organizations like YCS provide support and services to families in New Jersey.

Will you donate today? Visit and select ‘donate’ (or link in bio👉 @holidayfundnj)

Every contribution makes an impact!

Original story taken from

Take Control of Your Finances with the Help of ULEC’s Financial Opportunity Center

It’s every person’s dream to be financially free, and Anthony Bygrave is proof that it can be done. With the help of the Urban League of Essex County (ULEC) Financial Opportunity Center, Bygrave went from unemployed and discouraged to financially independent and inspiring. 

After losing his job as a forklift operator in July 2015 and facing unemployment, Bygrave found himself in need of assistance. He was referred to ULEC by a family friend and after attending some initial training sessions and meeting with a financial coach, Kamilla Johnson, his life quickly changed for the better.

Bygrave increased his credit score by 90 points, opened both checking and saving accounts, moved into an apartment on his own, purchased a used car, and decreased his debt by more than $11,000. 

He now feels financially independent, thanks to the services provided by ULEC and Johnson. Bygrave’s success story serves as an inspiration to others looking to take control of their finances. Here’s what she has to say about her client’s achievements: 

“I am elated every time a client commits to coaching and reaches their goal; I feel privileged to be a change agent in the process,” she said. “However, I constantly remind my clients that they are the masters of their own lives, and I am just a facilitator helping them.”

Will you give ONE donation this year and support the work of ELEVEN critical agencies like ULEC? Visit and select ‘donate’.

Original story taken from