The Fresh Air Fund gives a young boy the chance to go to summer camp

Camp is a wonderful experience for many kids: the great outdoors, fun activities and the company of other campers all make for an unforgettable adventure.

That’s why when Valerie’s eldest son became old enough to join one, he eagerly asked his mom to sign him up. He had always wanted to do it.

As a single mother of two, Valerie earned just enough to provide her family with basic necessities. There was no extra money for other activities, let alone a camping trip. But she knew this experience would give her son growth opportunities that she never had for herself.

That’s when she reached out to the Newark Day Center. He was granted a scholarship through the Fresh Air Fund to attend a 2-week summer camp.

Valerie’s son enjoyed camp thoroughly: making new friends, engaging in many activities and maintaining his smile through it all.

Upon returning home, his mother noticed that he had become more independent. He had an overwhelmingly positive experience and couldn’t stop talking about it. The family was very thankful for the memories and lessons that camp brought to their lives.

Whenever you give to the Holiday Fund, you support the Newark Day Center’s efforts to provide kids what they need to grow and thrive. Thank you for your continued generosity!

Original story taken from nj.com.

Healing from childhood trauma through counseling

Ms. Devlin struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for many years. She was desperately trying to numb the pain she experienced as a young girl.

Growing up, she was often left home alone with an older sibling who was mentally unstable. She had been seriously assaulted at home and lived in a constant state of fear. Eventually, she fled from home and moved to New York city. But it was there that she was sexually assaulted by someone she thought she could trust.

Through counseling, Ms. Devlin learned to process her trauma and create safety for herself, by choosing better friends and romantic partners.

Years later, Ms. Devlin is now writing a new chapter in her life. She now lives independently and works part time. She has remained sober, and engages in educational and creative tasks that keep her grounded and fulfilled. She is also happily seeing someone who genuinely cares for her and supports her.

Family Service League provides counseling and emotional support to victims and survivors of physical and emotional abuse, at a reduced rate or for free.

Your gift to the Holiday Fund helps services like theirs remain accessible to those who need it the most. We are grateful for your generosity.

Original story taken from nj.com.

The Mental Health Association of New Jersey participates in health fair for veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals

The Mental Health Association of New Jersey recently attended the New Jersey Reentry Corporation’s Annual Women’s Health Fair to provide mental health services to the formerly incarcerated and veterans in the community.

There were 40 other organizations at the event offering attendees several options to address their physical and mental health needs.

The fair equipped its visitors with the tools they needed to build a healthier future for themselves. Among its attendees were expectant mothers, individuals without health insurance, or those who were unemployed.

Your donation to the Holiday Fund supports the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, and 10 other social service agencies in Newark. Thank you for your generosity!

Original story taken from nj.com.

A Newly Found Family

My name is Adan, and I am 29. When I was 22, I found out I had a 5-year-old daughter because she was removed from her mother’s care and put into mine.

Going from my previous life as a single man to a father proved to be difficult. I lacked parenting skills and the ability to navigate a healthy relationship with my daughter, Lisa, who had considerable behavioral issues from life with her mother and in foster care.

After three years of living together, Lisa and I got into a small altercation. I regretted my actions immediately, but it was too late. Lisa was taken from me. Thankfully, because of her behavioral issues, she was placed in therapeutic foster care. This led to her eventually making a request for visitation with me so that we could begin to establish a relationship again.

During the first visit through Family Connections, we did an exercise where we both were able to express that we shared a goal of rebuilding our bond and being together. We both were able to reflect on our contribution to issues in the past. Lisa was able to address her behavioral issues and express that she wanted to work on them.

I apologized to her for my missteps and our altercation. I reassured her that none of this was her fault, validating the difficult experiences she had at home with her mother and in foster care.

Family Connections was with us every step of the way. In following visits, we began to bond more and more. In time, my daughter was able to show affection, giving me a big hug at the beginning and end of visits, and sitting comfortably on the couch next to me. We are excited to achieve our goal of reunification soon.

Original story taken from nj.com.

Family Service Bureau supports kinship families and strengthens their ties

Cheyenne and her two sisters, aged 14 and 16, were singlehandedly raised by their grandmother for as long as they could remember. This poses unique challenges for their family, as it can sometimes be difficult for grandparents to keep up with a generation that’s one removed from them. As society changes, so do young people’s needs.

Family Service Bureau’s kinship program acts as a bridge between children and their kin. Cheyenne, her sisters and her grandmother jointly attend biweekly meetings to learn about community resources and strengthen their relationship. They expressed gratitude for all the help they’ve gotten.

Cheyenne signed up to lead the organization and planning of a women’s conference for FSB. By doing so, she was able to practice important social and communication skills— skills that will surely come in handy for her dream of becoming a real estate agent. Having benefited from all the information and support she received, Cheyenne is now paying it forward.

Your gift to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund strengthens families all across Northern New Jersey. We thank you for your support!

Original story taken from nj.com.

Jewish Family Services MetroWest cares for Holocaust survivors until the end

When her mother’s health began to decline, the daughter of a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor contacted the Jewish Family Services for help.

JFS provided subsidized home care, hospice services and emergency medical equipment for the elderly survivor.

The daughter also received support as a second-generation caregiver.

She expressed gratitude to the JFS services for providing her mother with a “dignified end” at home.

Your generosity gives elderly survivors the care and services needed to pass peacefully in the last moments of their life. Thank you for making a contribution to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund.

Original story taken from nj.com

Catholic Charities gave a warm and safe place to a family of 4 from Colombia

A family of 4 from Colombia had crossed the border to seek asylum because their lives were threatened. They had nowhere to go and their housing situation was desperate.

Catholic Charities had a vacancy at Mother Teresa House, one of their transitional housing program for immigrants and refugees.

They quickly started to prepare the home to welcome the family. Local volunteers helped patched up a leaky roof, cleaned the rooms, mopped the floors, made the beds, and did some grocery shopping for the family.

The family was very grateful when they saw the space. The children have bikes they can ride. They also have a garden to grow their own vegetables and herbs.

The new family was also able to connect with another family from Colombia who lived at the same house last year. Together, they talked about their experiences and went grocery shopping together.

The father said he is very glad to have a safe and quiet place for his family to stay as they begin a new life.

When you give to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, you give families with nowhere else to go a place that’s safe and warm. Support our cause today: holidayfund.org

Breaking through the silence of autism: Sadiq’s story

“I want water flavored.”

Those were the first words that 7-year-old Sadiq said to his mom, Bethany, using his augmentative communication device.

Sadiq is on the autism spectrum and is completely non-verbal. However one day, as he sat next to his mom who was ordering groceries online, he grabbed her hand to signal her to return to the previous screen containing his favorite treat.

Upon hearing about this, the therapists and teachers at the YCS Sawtelle Learning Center did an evaluation to see if Sadiq could do even more with an augmentative device. The results were encouraging, and they began teaching him how to use the device at school.

When the state ordered a shutdown in March, Sadiq’s in-person lessons had to stop. In order to sustain his progress, YCS staff prepared individualized lessons that his parents could implement 3-4 times a day at home. Even then, mom Bethany knew that Sadiq would regress without the one-on-one therapy sessions provided at the Sawtelle center.

In September, Sawtelle staff made the decision to keep the school open full-time for any family that requested in-person learning for their child. The Abrams were elated. As a result, Sadiq has made great strides despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“It means the world to me that Sadiq will have the ability to fully communicate,” said Bethany. “We now have a window of hope.”

A long journey home: Jeffery Mathews’ story

Everyone deserves a place to call home.

When Jeffery Mathews first signed up for the Urban Senior Jobs Program offered by ULEC, he didn’t tell anyone that he was homeless. He had been sleeping in Lincoln Park and Penn Station, where many other homeless people slept. He felt ashamed.

The staff at ULEC reassured him that there was no reason to be ashamed, and immediately found a short-term solution to take Jeffery off the streets while he continued to train for employment.

Jeffery was committed to his training to become a maintenance assistant, and quickly found work at a local brewing company.

A month later, he was interviewed by a subsidized rental apartment complex in Newark. Jeffery completed the application and became eligible for a housing unit there. With some help from a corporate funder’s grant, Jeffery was able to pay for the security and first month’s rent.

When Jeffery finally got the keys to his own apartment and entered it for the first time, it felt as though he had hit the jackpot.

He was finally home.

The Urban League of Essex County changes the lives of many others just like Jeffery. Your donation to the Holiday Fund sustains employment and housing programs that provide hope to the most vulnerable in our community. Give to help those in need today: holidayfund.org

The Nutley Family Service Bureau helps single mothers through food programs

Every meal with your family is precious. Never take it for granted. 🙏

For some families, it’s a huge deal to be able to have a meal together.

The rising costs of food, clothing and housing has made it difficult for many people to even put food on the table.

That’s what Rebecca, single mother of 2, found herself struggling to do. Despite her best efforts, she was having trouble making ends meet and found herself 1 car repair away from economic devastation.

The Nutley Family Service Bureau Food Pantry has been a life saver for Rebecca. With her biweekly food distribution, she is able to feed herself and her children even when times are tough. She receives fresh produce, dairy products, bread, meat and shelf-stable groceries with every bag.

When you support the Holiday Fund, you help sustain food programs like these. Give to families in need today: holidayfund.org

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