Family Service League advocates for the rights and recovery of sexual assault victims

At the end of her first semester of college, Brenda went out with her classmates to celebrate with a few drinks at a local bar. Later that morning, she woke up feeling very sick, partially dressed, with no recollection of the events of the evening. She felt very scared and confused.

After reaching out to a local hospital, Brenda was connected to a sexual assault advocate from Family Service League. The advocate accompanied Brenda as she went through a forensic medical examination.

Brenda was able to talk with her advocate about her concerns regarding the events of the night before. She was given information/referrals to local support services, as well as her rights and options as a survivor.

In the examination room, Brenda held on to her advocate’s hand the entire time. Afterwards, she was given a change of clothes, undergarments and something to eat.

Although Brenda chose not to report the incident to the police, she knew she could do so at any time in the future. It was a difficult experience, but she felt heard and supported by her advocate.

We’re proud to be able to support the Family Service League’s efforts in caring for sexual assault victims. A donation to the Holiday Fund goes a long way towards supporting the healing process and recovery of survivors of sexual assault. Give today at

Family Service Bureau helps young girl adapt to her new blended family

Adapting to a new family can be hard, especially for young children in blended families.

A 12-year-old girl was referred to the Family Service Bureau for that reason. She was a part of a newly established blended family and found it extremely difficult to acclimate. Her biological father left the country when she was 8 years old, leaving her, her younger brother and mother behind. Once the mother remarried, the girl’s behavior changed, and it became difficult for her to communicate.

A clinician from the Family Service Bureau held one-on-one therapy sessions to identify the young girl’s concerns and fears about the family’s restructuring, trust issues and communication problems. During these sessions, the girl learned skills and techniques to deal with those issues.

The rest of the family was involved as well, through group sessions that focused on improving the communication and interaction of all family members.

Within 6 months, the family dynamic had improved to the point that they no longer needed the agency’s services. 🎊

A little help goes a long way. The Family Services Bureau’s work is made possible by supporters like you. Visit to learn about how you can make a difference today.

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How Christopher learned to become a Strong Father

Meet Christopher, a father who once had trouble keeping his life together, now helping other fathers overcome their weaknesses:

“When I came to Family Connections, I hadn’t had a job in 2 years. I had no driver’s license. I had family problems, anger issues, substance abuse issues. And most of all, I wasn’t taking care of my kids.”

“In the Strong Fathers program, I learned about my weaknesses – no motivation, never getting things done. They taught me about setting goals and I found I could set goals and do things one by one. I started getting things done and it made me feel good about myself.”

“Before, I didn’t want other people to tell me what to do. But my counselor made me believe I could change. He’s my inspiration. He helped me with my anger, so now I catch myself before it happens. I let things slide off my back.”

“He also connected me to a job. And most of all, he taught me patience with my children.”

“I’ve been clean for a year now. I got my license, got a job, got a car. And I got joint custody of my children. I have confidence in myself now.”

“I had to do it for my children. They’re my motivation and my strength. I’ve graduated from Strong Fathers but I still go in to help the other men. I get support and direction and structure. Every time I go there, I learn something.”

“People say I’m a role model now. But I don’t see myself as a role model. I’m just a man, trying to take care of his kids.”

The Strong Fathers program by Family Connections is a substance abuse treatment and parenting skills training. The organization is one of the 11 partner agencies of the Holiday Fund. Your donation makes life change possible. Help more fathers like Christopher turn lives around. Go to to learn more.

Story taken from the Family Connections website.

Seeking a birth mother and finding a family

“After being given up for adoption when she was 7 years old, Susan turned to Catholic Charities as an adult and reunited with her birth family.”

“She had enjoyed a happy and secure upbringing with her adoptive family. But 50 years later, following the birth of her first grandchild, Susan began to wonder more about her own birth and the circumstances surrounding of her adoption.”

“She reached out to Catholic Charities Adoptions Division and learned about her birth mother, Ruth.”

“Ruth had been a 36-year-old widow who found herself struggling financially to raise and care for 5 children. So Ruth sought the assistance of Catholic Charities to place Susan, the youngest, for adoption.”

“The Adoptions Division was able to find her four siblings. Sadly, they shared that Ruth died many years ago without ever informing them about Susan.”

“Through the support and counseling of their social worker, Susan’s siblings agreed to communicate with her. Since then, the 5 siblings have all become good friends as well as proclaimed sisters.”

“Although Susan regrets never having the chance to meet Ruth, she has come to know her through countless pictures and stories. For her, the holiday season is now so much more meaningful when shared with a now larger, loving family.”

Families lives are changed every day thanks to the help of Catholic Charities, one of our 11 partner agencies. Click here to support their fantastic work with a donation to the Holiday Fund:

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Young mother overcomes all odds to secure a bright future for herself

Naysha (20) hasn’t had an easy life. She was in and out of foster care as a child, her brother was murdered, and she became a mom at 15. 

Despite her complicated circumstances, she was committed to staying in school and being an incredible mom. 

In the past few years, Naysha graduated high school as a Valedictorian, received a scholarship to Rutgers. A few months into her college journey, however, she hit a few more hurdles — a wait list to her desired program at Rutgers, homelessness and a lack of support from family and friends. 

Naysha got in touch with Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS) and has been receiving support from their Mobility Mentoring program and her mentor Tisha Mender, who helps Naysha set achievable goals and objectives. Mobility Mentoring also provided Naysha with a laptop, a scholarship, and assistance with purchasing school uniforms.

Over the years, the agency has also provided extra support to Naysha’s child Kameron. CAF’s Baby Basics program has provided diapers, wipes, baby clothes, and holiday gifts for Kameron. 

Naysha is poised to build a brighter future. We are so proud of you, Naysha! And we are so honored to be contributing to the work of CAFS

A lifelong friendship that began with kindness

Ms. Etta Sample and Bruce Castro met each other at the YCS Laurie Haven group home. Bruce had just come from a series of failed foster home placements. At such a young age, he was already fraught with many painful memories.

One he recalls, was when his mother promised to visit him for his birthday. In anticipation, he waited and waited for her but she never showed up. He was devastated.

A few years later, history repeated itself when his mother failed to make an appearance on his birthday once more. But this time, he had Ms. Sample on his side.

Bruce vividly remembers how Ms. Sample later confronted his mom at a family conference.

Ms. Sample also fought to keep Bruce at Laurie Haven till they could find the right foster home for him.

To this day, Bruce has never forgotten his appreciation for Ms. Sample. Every year, he calls to wish her a Merry Christmas. It’s a call that she herself always looks forward to receiving.

Give children the home and the love that they deserve when you donate to the Holiday Fund. Your gift supports the Youth Consultation Services and its group homes for the most vulnerable children in our communities. Help now at

Mature worker begins a new career in spite of health challenges

Armed with a good attitude and the right opportunities, Beth was able to turn her life around.

The Mature Worker Program offered by ULEC set Beth up to take GED, computer skills and security training classes.

Thanks to that, Beth gained the skills necessary to let the working world value her.

The human resources director at her new job summed it up perfectly: “She has proven to be a valuable staff member… She has great human relations skills, is dependable, punctual and a team player.”

You can help displaced and older workers find their place in the world again. When you support the Holiday Fund, a portion of the proceeds goes to ULEC and their Mature Workers Program.

Visit us at to learn more.

A glowing review from a Nutley Family Services client

One of the patrons at the Nutley Family Service Bureau expressed their appreciation for the excellent services they received at The Center. The organization provides a variety of programs to support the mental health of community members.

With anxiety and depression on the rise in the U.S., the work that the NFSB does is more important now than ever before. Support the mental health movement by giving to the Holiday Fund.

Learn more at

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

Kyle needed a few accommodations to really feel at home in class. With a little help from his teachers and social workers from Newark Day Center, Kyle was able to make the most out of his time at school. Now, he is on track to prepare for grade school.

Every child is unique and has different needs when it comes to their development. Our partner, Newark Day Center, helps families and kids succeed in the early years through supports, programs and training.

Learn more about their fantastic work at

Jewish Family Services distributes care packages to students during back-to-school season

Families faced so much change and uncertainty during the back-to-school season. That’s why JFS sent out packages filled with tools to help students calm their mind and promote self-awareness.

“For children who enjoy art, the process of drawing and creating can be powerful. Listening to music or writing in a journal can help children explore their feelings. Fidget toys and stress balls can help reduce anxiety and improve focus. There are so many different ways to calm our minds and bodies.”

These small but powerful tools go a long way towards developing kids’ mindfulness skills, which will help reduce anxiety, strengthen self-control, improve sleep, and increase positivity and self-esteem.

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