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.
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.
A young man was able to experience independence from the challenges that often face individuals with mental illness.
The programs offered by Catholic Charities are better as a result of residents like Erasmo.
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.
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.
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.
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, nj.com 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.
The Emergency Food and Nutrition Network of over 80 organizations led by the Catholic Charities of Newark (Read more here)
Emergency Food Pantry for residents of the New Community Corporation (Family Service Bureau) (Read more here)
One of our partner agencies, Nutley Family Service Bureau, recently shared a word of gratitude from a family of seven.
“The help we 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.”
Your generosity empowers stories like this. Your donation helps families find a safety net when things get difficult.
Has your family participated in giving funds or donating goods together? I’d love to hear your story. Hit REPLY and let me know.
P.S. If you’d like to give towards one of the efforts above, click here to donate to the Holiday Fund. Every donation you give is funneled to 10 partner agencies and helps directly with efforts like these.
The Urban League of Essex County ensures disadvantaged individuals and families that they will gain better opportunities, financial stability, homeownership, and more through its social services and relevant programs.
With the help of dedicated volunteers and compassionate professionals, ULEC aims to make a difference in thousands of people who needs assistance.
For years, Newark Day Center strives to support the surrounding communities of New Jersey through child support, opportunities for adults, social services for the elderly, and summer camping experiences.
Find out how your donation can help this and many other organizations that the Greater Newark Holiday Fund assist!
Through local and global partnerships and comprehensive programs, New Community Corporation provides on-site support services like child care, job search, and workshops to help improve the quality of life of the community.