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!

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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

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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!

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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’.

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Thanksgiving at Nutley Family Service Bureau

Ever wonder what Thanksgiving for 200 would look like? Look no further than Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB).

Each year, NFSB gives away gift baskets filled with food for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. This is a benefit of clients who are enrolled in their pantry services.

This year, NFSB plans to provide traditional meals to more than 200 individuals. The baskets will include items like turkey, stuffing, potato mix, and more.

Here’s what Pantry Assistant Manager Joan Roake said of the experience:

“Nothing is more gratifying or exciting than being a Pantry volunteer leading up to Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. We can always use more hands, even after hours for people who are unavailable during the day. It’s a great way to see the difference we make in the community.”

Whether you volunteer in a pantry, kitchen, or agency office, you can use your skills for the greater good all year round. Have you ever volunteered during the Thanksgiving season? Share your experience below!

Individual Education Program/Plan (IEP) helps a child with his learning and development.

When a caring teacher advocates for the kids in her classroom, change occurs.

Noticing that 4-year-old Kyle was wandering off during large or small group activities and struggling with directives, Newark Day Center teacher, Ms. Osborne, made observations and took notes on Kyle’s behaviors. Soon after, she brought her concerns to the family workers, social worker, and eventually the parents, who were encouraged to speak with the child study team of Newark Public School. These pros set Kyle on a new path–one that includes an IEP.

An IEP, Individual Education Program/Plan, is a written plan that describes the programs and special services a student is required to follow in order to be successful. Kyle’s IEP recommended that he receive educational, speech, and occupational therapy assessments and an autism consultation.

These accommodations were implemented and, after time, Ms. Osborne reports that Kyle was improving more every day and beginning to communicate and interact more. In all, the IEP process was a success as it helped Kyle and his family prepare for grade school.

Hats off to the staff of Newark Day Center who were able to help get Kyle on track with his learning and child development.🙌

Mental health has now reached crisis mode

Unfortunately, it seems that it took a global pandemic for people to start seeing mental health as equal to physical health.

Carolyn Beauchamp, president, and CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey says, “Until the pandemic, people saw mental health and physical health separately. I think that’s shifting because of COVID-19. People are much more aware of depression and anxiety.”

And yet, the resources are inadequate. Just to name a couple of concerns:

  • The system of care is limited with too few centers and clinics.
  • Society at large is lacking an understanding of what it means to have a mental health problem.
  • New Jersey is ill-equipped to help those seeking counseling or psychiatric help, with extended wait times and limited resources.
  • The number of trained individuals in the field of mental health is not on par with the demand.

Although mental health has been a concern for decades, it has now reached crisis mode. It has impacted enough of our everyday institutions that it can’t be ignored. Says Beauchamp:

“The [mental health] crisis has gone on for more than two years and it’s not going to go away. It hits every aspect of our society, from school, to work, to all kinds of things. I think the opportunity is now and I think the chance of making change is now.”

Will you be a part of the change?

You can leave a legacy in New Jersey and help to make an impact on the ongoing mental health crisis when you donate to the Holiday Fund.

Learn more when you visit

How Hank turned his life around

After losing his job and his marriage, Hank had hit rock bottom.

When he came to Jewish Family Services (JFS) for treatment, he was struggling with severe depression. He lacked secure housing, money, and basic necessities.

Hank had walked through most of his life with untreated bipolar disorder, which made his isolation, unhappiness, and suicidal ideations a serious concern.

When JFS Case Management Services stepped in, things took a turn for the better. They helped Hank obtain:

  • An apartment
  • Credit counseling
  • Psychiatric services
  • Prescription assistance
  • Therapy

Now, Hank has gradually shown signs of mood improvement, an interest in socializing, and has a full-time job!

Like Hank, many of us have needed help obtaining services that put us back on our brightest path.

Which person or service has helped steer you on your journey?

Linda’s Story

Meet Linda.

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Just 18 years old, pregnant, and homeless, Linda thought her only option was to drop out of school. She was lost and overwhelmed.

Seeking clarity, she went to Family Connections, and the people she met there helped her find another way. 

She stayed in school, eventually got 2 jobs, and found her own place to stay. 

She even made the Dean’s List at community college!

Linda says, “I realized that there are people who will help you.” She learned to get what she wanted in life by working hard to reach her goals: 

“When you have a good job and you’re taking care of yourself and your child, that’s the best feeling ever.”

The Holiday Fund Impact

When you give to the Holiday Fund, you are part of the amazing work of Family Connections because your gift goes directly to brightening the future of more people like Linda.

I believe that the best charity is local.

People around you, maybe even people you’ve seen before, are benefiting because of your gift. 

It’s real. 

It’s transformative. 

And it’s happening no matter how big or small a gift you give.

Today, please give generously to Greater Newark Holiday Fund so we can continue supporting all our wonderful partner agencies.

Healing from assault: Delilah’s story

Delilah has had a turbulent relationship with love throughout her life.

When she was a little child and was abandoned in the care of another family before being taken back by her mother a few years later.

Recently, she got in touch with the Family Service League (FSL) because her pastor had been manipulating and assaulting her, all in the name of spiritual healing.

Now, through weekly meetings at FSL, Delilah has been finding her voice and regaining control of her life.

We’re thankful for the stellar agencies we partner with, like FSL and others who are making a difference in people’s lives every day.

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