Jaclyn had been working full-time, but still struggling to make ends meet. And despite her best efforts, she was evicted from her apartment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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),”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Veronica Artis-Bryant was 20 years old and a sophomore at Stevens Institute of Technology when she found out she was pregnant.
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.
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.
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.
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
“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
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.