If you see a school-aged child walking around Northern New Jersey with an overflowing backpack, it might be the work of Nutley Family Services Bureau (NFSB).
Every year, NFSB joyfully fills backpacks with supplies needed to support students for the entire school year. This is just one example of the many ways NFSB is helping their community, which includes offering food assistance and providing mental health support.
FOUNDED BY CIVIC-MINDED WOMEN
Nutley’s mission is to strengthen the emotional and social well-being of individuals and families through affordable mental health counseling and social service programs, and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing since 1913.
Founded by a group of civic-minded women, Nutley has been a steadfast force for families for well over a hundred years.
The founders recognized the need for improved social services “… to promote and improve morally and materially, the condition of the poor in the town of Nutley.”
The nature of the agency’s work varied to meet the diverse challenges facing local individuals in the first half of the twentieth century, including the Great Depression, World Wars I and II.
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CLIENTS ARE THANKFUL
Here’s what one client said about her experience receiving mental health services through NFSB:
I have been coming here for the past three years,” the client explained. “While working with my clinician, I have been able to overcome certain issues and have become a better person.
Without my clinician’s help I would have never gotten to this point in my life. If anyone is looking for a place to talk, come to NFSB.
Healing is found when people in need have a safe, accessible place to receive the help they need. For many in Northern New Jersey, that place is Nutley.
During the challenging circumstances of 2020, Nutley expanded their diverse essential services to the community. For example, Nutley:
- Met increased demand for the Food Pantry services by providing supplemental food security for over 700 individuals
- supported the Nutley Public Schools by helping to distribute over 16,000 meals and facilitating therapeutic groups to improve children’s mental health
- Provided 5,000 remote tele-therapy counseling sessions to over 450 clients through their Psychotherapy Center.
Did you know that 110 volunteers provide weekly support at Nutley? You can make that 111 if you’d consider donating a portion of your time to make a contribution to the community.
Simply submit a Volunteer Application Form found on the Nutley website.
NUTLEY’S REAL-LIFE IMPACT
When NFSB first started seeing the Smith family, John was 9 years old. His grandparents made the decision to become John’s caregiver because his mother had struggled with alcohol use disorder for most of her adult life.
There were several issues that the grandparents had to work through as they adjusted to their decision,” said Joe Armentano, MSW, LCSW, and Coordinator of Education and Staff Development at NFSB. “The grandmother had health issues, the grandfather had to continue working in his 70s to make it work financially, and they were both stressed and frustrated about their daughter’s addiction.
John had been seemingly scapegoated for his mother’s struggles and was over-medicated by a psychiatrist outside of NFSB. He was dealing with his own social issues and never knew his biological father.
The grandmother was well-intentioned but would often hover over John,” Joe said. “She was over-involved and created somewhat of an adversarial relationship with John’s school. In family therapy, we worked to develop a healthier parenting system that worked for everyone while collaborating closely with John’s school counselor.
Because John had behavioral issues and social anxieties that were causing him to get in trouble in school, virtual learning during the pandemic was beneficial. This reduced the amount of negative attention and allowed John to work through his own challenges.
When substance use disorders impact a family, communication is often unhealthy,” Joe said. “John is such a great kid with a big heart and strong moral compass. We worked with him to express his feelings and connected him with family activities and volunteering opportunities through a local church group.
Family therapy through NFSB, along with ongoing communication with doctors and the school counselor, resulted in tremendous improvement for John. When he stopped taking medication that had been previously prescribed, his demeanor and personality changed significantly.
The grandparents, who continued to devote their love and energy to John, received counseling as well. They learned to trust and work with the school for John’s benefit and gained a better understanding of how to fill the role of parents in a more productive way.
Self-care is extremely important,” Joe said. “As caregivers, grandparents can be so focused on the well-being of their grandchildren that they neglect themselves. Because of the stigma and fear that often surround mental health, many people who are struggling don’t ask for help. I’m glad they had the courage to reach out to us for support.
This is just one of the many stories of impact reported by NFSB.
The family has gone through its share of growing pains during this period of change, but they’re in a much better place today. Family therapy provided the foundation for healing, progress, and growth as the grandparents adjusted to their role as primary caregivers and John worked through his difficulties.