Reflecting On The True Power Of Giving

As the weather turns cold, I can’t help but feel grateful. 

I think about what a hard year it has been for our city, and how the stories of our community have been overshadowed by other major events. 

This year, more than ever, will be a crucial time to lend a hand to those who have fallen on hard times. 

I am reminded of a conversation I had with John Westervelt, CEO of the Catholic Charities (one of our partner organizations), about the people they reach out to everyday:

“They just needed that little helping hand. I tell everybody the same thing. $10, $15 gave that helping hand to someone that just needed a little push to start again.” 

I couldn’t agree more. 

The people of New Jersey are strong. 

With a little kindness from others, we can do so much. 

  • Every year, we see more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds build a good life for themselves
  • We hear of parents and caregivers going above and beyond for their children’s sake
  • We witness the transformation of the homeless, the mentally ill and the vulnerable into strong contributing members of society

Through your generosity, you give small but powerful pushes of inspiration. 

From the Greater Newark Holiday Fund team to you, thanks for all the “pushes” you’ve given to our communities. 

It truly has made all the difference.
To donate now, visit We are grateful for the “pushes,” especially in 2020.

Baby Basics program helps mother care for young son

Still just a baby, Joseph has already faced more challenges than most people do in a lifetime. His mother, Alexis, escaped an abusive relationship during her pregnancy with little more than the clothes on her back. Although Alexis was able to move in with a family member and find a full-time job, she still struggles financially. She now receives free diapers and other baby essentials from Baby Basics, a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services.

Joseph was born five weeks prematurely after Alexis went through an extremely difficult pregnancy. The baby spent one month in the NICU at the hospital and was diagnosed with Bartter Syndrome, a rare disease that affects kidney function.
“Joseph was taking six different prescriptions when he came home and needed to see a kidney specialist several times a month,” Alexis said. “And whenever he ran a fever, I had to take him to the emergency room right away.”

As a result of his condition, Joseph needs frequent diaper changes, which causes even more strain on Alexis’s limited finances.

“Even though I work full time, I was spending almost all of my money on diapers,” Alexis said. “The Baby Basics program has been a big help. I can save some money now and I’m very grateful.”

Alexis works hard to ensure her baby has a good childhood, and she lights up when she talks about him. “He loves playing with animals and toy cars. Despite everything he’s gone through, Joseph is the happiest baby. When he smiles, everyone feels better,” she said.

Children’s Aid and Family Services is able to provide free diapers and other baby essentials to low-income families in northern New Jersey because of the generosity of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at, on Facebook at or on Instagram at

To make a donation, visit

Sexual assault victim finds help from Family Service League

Brenda, a 21-year-old college freshman, recently moved from Ohio to New Jersey for her first year of college. She struggled being away from her family and often felt isolated and alone.

She did not frequent local bars, however, she accepted an invitation by her classmates to have a few drinks to celebrate the end of the semester. At 4 a.m. Brenda woke up in her apartment feeling very sick, was partially dressed, and had no recollection of the events of the evening. Feeling scared and confused, she sought help at a local hospital. When Brenda arrived at the hospital, Family Service League’s Confidential Sexual Assault Advocate was dispatched to accompany the survivor through the forensic medical examination.

Brenda was also able to speak to the advocate privately about her concerns about what may have transpired the prior evening. Brenda felt confused, scared, and blamed herself for not being more careful when she was drinking at the bar.

The advocate provided Brenda with information/referrals to local support services and explained her rights and options that she had as a survivor. With the support of the advocate, Brenda consented to the sexual assault forensic examination, which included a toxicology test. The advocate held her hand throughout the entire exam. The advocate also provided Brenda with a change of clothes, undergarments, and something to eat.

At this time, Brenda chose not to report the incident to the police, but Brenda was made aware that she can make a police report at a later time.

Brenda was grateful that she had the support of the advocate and that she felt believed. The care and support of an advocate is essential to support the recovery and healing process for all survivors of sexual assault.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at, on Facebook at or on Instagram at

To make a donation, visit

And We’re Off — The Giving Season is Officially Here

We kicked off the Giving Season officially last night, and even though we weren’t able to be in person this year, it was a wonderful time of discussion and celebration as we talked about making a difference in New Jersey together.

We were honored to be joined by Greg T from 103.5 KTU. His partnership as we kicked off gave the evening new energy and celebration.

We hope you are as excited as we are to make a difference where it counts in 2020!

Up next — #GivingTuesday — less than three weeks away!

Greater Newark Children Find Hope & Freedom Through Generosity

At summer camp, Niyea and Naziah traded cement for trees, and fear of unsafe encounters for fear of scraped knees.

On the daily bus ride to camp, the girls enjoyed seeing ponds and farm animals in fields. Once there, they could be found bike riding, swimming, playing games, performing drama, music, and more. 

These aren’t common scenes when you live in the urban environment of northern New Jersey, where almost 30% of the households are at or below the poverty level, and gun violence is a common occurrence

Mom, Janet, was thrilled for her young girls to get a break from the city, a chance to live without worries about their surroundings. Janet had fond memories of childhood camp but knew her income wasn’t enough. She was thrilled when Newark Day Center offered her children a camp scholarship, courtesy of the generous Fresh Air Fund.

When donors support the Holiday Fund, they are actually supporting 10 different agencies in the Greater Newark Area; agencies that have spent hundreds of years of combined service to the children and families of the community. Services like:

  • A landing space for teens to receive education support, peer support, and community exposure, supported by Family Connections. Kids love the chance to get out of the city and hike in a state park for the first time, or see a show on Broadway!
  • An exciting online coding class for young people of Newark, developed by the Urban League of Essex County
  • Saturday Fun Club of the New Community Corporation engages children ages 5 to 12 while providing a safe and nurturing environment.

Every time a donor gives to the Holiday Fund, these organizations receive support. Every donation is distributed among 10 NJ agencies, who work tirelessly to serve the most at-risk and disadvantaged lives in their community.

donation means more kids attend summer camp, more young people enroll in a coding class, and more teens have a safe place to hang out after school. 

Through your generosity, Greater Newark children find hope and freedom. We hope you’ll donate today.

How generosity helps young adults in New Jersey reach their goals

For many of the youth in northern New Jersey, one misstep can turn into a major detour. 

Though making mistakes is part of growing up, for disadvantaged youth who do not have support and safety nets available, those missteps can be tragic.

That’s where community support comes in. 

Life-affirming programs, run by seasoned professionals from reputable organizations (like those we partner with at the Holiday Fund) have hundreds of years of combined experience serving the youth and young adults of northern New Jersey communities

Let me share a few of the exciting ways these service agencies connect youth with necessary resources:

  • Teens and older adults pursue education by attending a GED preparation class at the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark.
  • Young adults who previously have been involved in the court system gather and receive prevention and transition services at Urban League of Essex County’s Face Forward Urban Youth Empowerment Program. prevention, assessment, intervention, and transition services
  • Students 16 and older prepare for their futures by attending class at New Community Corporation’s Adult Learning Center, where more than 2,000 individuals are pursuing a vocational or college education. 

We celebrate with the young people who are receiving assistance and creating a safety net of their own, thanks to these experienced agencies. 

When you support the Holiday Fund, you contribute to agencies like these who support youth at every turn. 

We live in one of the most affluent communities in the world, and our youth shouldn’t have to miss out on opportunities to build a secure future for themselves. Youth in New Jersey shouldn’t live disadvantaged and vulnerable lives today. 

Let’s celebrate together the achievement of youth receiving help and support. 

P.S. If you want to support the Holiday Fund, you don’t have to wait until the holidays. Though we do the majority of our fundraising during that season, we welcome donations at any time of year. 

How one woman went from homeless to chef

As soon as the evenings turn cold and bitter, I think about those individuals and families in NJ who are facing the night without shelter. 

Then I think about our compassionate and experienced partner agencies who have already planned for nights like this and are prepared to offer help — agencies like New Community Corporation, Catholic Charities and many more. 

Connecting the individuals in need with staff from these caring organizations is what excites us most at the Greater Newark Holiday Fund. 

We raise funding support for 10 social service agencies during their highest season of need, which allows them to put more energy into serving and empowering individuals and families. 

In a recent article, we shared the incredible story of Paula, who has literally gone from homeless to chef. 

Her exciting career advancements and personal growth would be exciting to watch regardless of her background, but knowing that she has gone from doubting her abilities to believing in herself makes the story even sweeter. 

Check out Paula’s story and transformation on our blog, and find out how empty plates bring her joy.

We hope you’ll check out the work of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund this season and consider supporting all of these local agencies with one easy donation

This is What Determination Plus Assistance Can Do

Did you know that many of our 10 partner agencies offer services that support mental health? Through the programs offered by our partners, individuals are finding hope again.

Here is just one of hundreds of stories about personal resilience and the dedicated work of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark

Residential counselor Aleisia Freeman, left, with Erasmo

In just under a decade, the life of Erasmo has changed drastically. 

Almost 40, he has schizophrenia, and came to the Catholic Charities/Mount Carmel Guild residential program in 2010 after experiencing a mental health crisis that saw him hospitalized for more than a year. 

As we see commonly with those who are living with untreated mental illness, he also had been homeless several times.

After Erasmo was stabilized, he was admitted to a group home, where he began to learn independence: the importance of taking his medication regularly and staying educated about his mental illness. He developed coping skills to help deal with his feelings and symptoms of mental illness. 

During this time, Erasmo attended Catholic Charities’ Mount Carmel Guild Partial Care program every day, attending groups and continuing his personal advocacy education. Once he began to thrive in the group home, he transitioned to an apartment facility.

Upon graduating from the Partial Care program in 2018, Erasmo began serving as a role model and peer to other residents in the program. 

He credits Catholic Charities/Mount Carmel Guild Partial Care program for providing what he needed to learn how to face reality: care, education and assistance. He said:

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

We love this story.

  1. A young man was able to experience independence from the challenges that often face individuals with mental illness.
  2. The programs offered by Catholic Charities are better as a result of residents like Erasmo.
  3. He paid that experience forward by serving as an example to his peers in the program. 

Isn’t that exciting? We think so!

I am sure you have stories of your own that are a testimony to the power of persistence and determination—stories from your own vault, or stories from loved ones who’ve overcome obstacles. 

We’d love to hear them and be encouraged. Tell us in the COMMENT SECTION below!

We hope you’ll consider supporting our partner agencies who offer assistance to individuals like Erasmo who are experiencing mental illness, like Children’s Aid and Family Services, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Family Service League, and more. You can give to all of these agencies with one donation here.

Holiday Fund partner agencies provide help to the disadvantaged in New Jersey

When Paula and her son moved back north from Florida a couple years ago, they were in need of housing. She was also in search of employment to support her family of two. 

One of Holiday Fund’s partner agencies, New Community Corporation (NCC), was able to provide support and assistance in both of these areas for Paula and her 10-year-old son. 

The mother and son pair were placed at Harmony House, NCC’s transitional housing facility for homeless families. Paula enrolled in the New Community Career & Technical Institute Culinary Arts Specialist program, where she excelled, and which led her to a job as a cook at NCC’s extended nursing care facility. 

NCC, born out of the civil unrest of the 60s, provides housing, health, education and community services to people of New Jersey. Their passion for helping the disadvantaged is shared with other committed agencies in the Newark area, like Catholic Charities, Youth Service League, and more. 

In fact, the 10 agency partners of the Holiday Fund make a difference every day in the lives of individuals in Northern NJ. For over 80 years, these organizations have provided services of care, hope, and kindness. 

For example:

  • Family Connections delivers professional counseling, skill-building, training and prevention services to over 4,000 children, adults and families.
  • Children’s Aid and Family Services helps children who don’t have families able to care for them. 
  • The Urban League of Essex County is passionate about improving the lives of disadvantaged residents.

Every donation to the Holiday Fund is funneled to the ten partner agencies, including NCC, where Paula and her son found the assistance they needed at just the right time.

Today, Paula has two jobs. Now a graduate of the program, she remains employed at NCC’s skilled nursing facility, but she also accepted another job as a personal chef for a local celebrity. In an article highlighting her accomplishments on NCC’s website, Paula said:

“The thing that makes me happy is when I put a plate down in front of someone and they clean the plate. I like when that plate is cleared because it shows that they enjoyed what they ate and they’re satisfied.”

To support programs at New Community Corporation and other reputable agencies, make a donation to the Holiday Fund. Your gift is distributed to 10 partner agencies who provide critical services for our community.

No one should live disadvantaged and vulnerable lives in 2020. Your support will make a difference.

Your generosity empowers advocacy for survivors of violence

Unlike never before, we can all relate to the feeling of fear and uncertainty.
But for some, it’s a daily occurrence after surviving a violent crime.

Sometimes that fear and uncertainty lives in the next room. 

More than 1 in 4 New Jersey women and men experience a violent assault in their lifetime. 

And in 29% of these cases, children are present or involved. 

We are grateful that our partner agencies — like Family Service League of Essex County —  provide confidential and respectful trauma responses to New Jersey Families. 

Earlier this year, reported on the survivor story of a college freshman who’d been attacked. 

When a college freshman ended up in ER after being assaulted by another classmate, a compassionate advocate from Family Service League was called to help. Advocates provide information/referrals, support, and also explain the rights and options a victim has available. 

FSL advocates also provide tangible resources like clothing, water, food, and toiletries to replace what is collected as evidence, which is a crucial step to restoring dignity after an assault.

Like FSL, other Holiday Fund partner agencies are taking action against violence through education, counseling, medical/legal accompaniments, and confidential hotlines. 

Here are just a few:

  • Jewish Family Service’s Trauma / Rachel Coalition Children’s Services (Read more here)

The staff and volunteers at our partner agencies work tirelessly to advocate to restore dignity to survivors and their families. 

We are grateful your generosity is helping to facilitate solutions in New Jersey! Your donation is funneled to agencies like these so they can continue their advocacy. 

You can give online anytime here. Your donation means more survivors are cared for today.