We are so happy for our Program Graduate, Suheil and her 2 children! Suheil participated in our Emergency Shelter program and was 100% committed to our Guest Savings Iniative! She has a vehicle, stable employment and keys to her very own apartment!
The long work days/nights and seemingly insurmountable odds are totally worth it because of people like Suheil! The world is her oyster and it should definitely get ready for her! She’s on the move! ❤️
“…Coming into the [FPMC] program, I felt embarrassed as a mom, I felt like a failure but I knew I didn’t want to give up my kids! You believed in me and you all (even the people at the churches) became my family.” -Suheil
Family Promise of Monmouth County (FPMC) held its ninth annual Cardboard Box City fundraising event in Tinton Falls, NJ on Friday, October 5th. Hundreds of Monmouth County students, youth groups, faith-based organizations and scouting groups of all denominations descended on the grounds of Monmouth Church of Christ to simulate a night of homelessness while raising awareness and money to support children and families currently experiencing homelessness in Monmouth County.
RECAP: 9th ANNUAL CARDBOARD BOX CITY
FAMILY PROMISE OF MONMOUTH COUNTY RAISES NEARLY $50,000 AT NINTH ANNUAL CARDBOARD BOX CITY EVENT
(October 9, 2018) – Family Promise of Monmouth County (FPMC) held its ninth annual Cardboard Box City fundraising event in Tinton Falls, NJ on Friday, October 5th. Hundreds of Monmouth County students, youth groups, faith-based organizations and scouting groups of all denominations descended on the grounds of Monmouth Church of Christ to simulate a night of homelessness while raising awareness and money to support children and families currently experiencing homelessness in Monmouth County.
While Monmouth County is considered one of the more affluent counties in the Garden State, data affirms that more than 200 children are homeless on any given night.
FPMC is the only emergency shelter for families in the county and has served over 350 families since 2001. For the past nine years, the organization has held the Cardboard Box City event and the participant list has swelled exponentially since its inception. This year’s total was a direct result of youth-led fundraising, corporate sponsorships from Mario Venancio of Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate, Merrick Construction, and a major donation from the Stepanski Family Charitable Trust (SFCT). During the event, board member Jessica Stepanski and her husband Matthew presented FPMC Executive Director Christine Love with a check in the amount of $30,000 for the purchase of a new 15-passenger van to transport the organization’s families.
“We are beyond grateful for this donation, as transportation is the crux of our program,” said Love of the gift and its purpose. “Not only do we transport our 15 guests to our 13 host congregations weekly, we also transport them to vital appointments with the Board of Social Services, job interviews, medical appointments, school, work and community-based events.”
The donation was made on behalf of Matt and Melinda Stepanski in honor of their beloved mother, Jane Stepanski, one of the founders of the SFCT. The family echoed their sentiments by sharing Jane “was a great advocate for families in need and always sought to bring relief to homeless people. It would have given her great pride to make such a meaningful donation to such a worthy cause.”
FPMC Board President Elaine Young has participated in all nine Cardboard City events and expressed her “sincere pride in the youth of Monmouth County who have taken the lead on one of the most important social issues of our time” when asked to reflect on the CBC’s impact. The successful event comes on the heels of FPMC being granted final building permits to occupy their new, centrally-located Day Center on Fort Monmouth. The new site will enable the organization to expand its footprint and impact for the families of Monmouth County.
About Family Promise Monmouth County Family Promise of Monmouth County is an affiliate of National Family Promise, which works with community agencies, faith-based organizations, churches and synagogues to provide immediate access to emergency shelter, food, clothing, transportation and comprehensive case management to families facing a housing crisis. FPMC is the only shelter program for families with minor children in Monmouth County.
Since 2001, FPMC has provided a safe haven for over 350 families and expanded to offer more comprehensive programming such as intensive case management, resume’ writing/interviewing skills, financial literacy training, and basic life skills training to increase self-sufficiency. The organization provides over 12,000 meals and more than 5,100 bed-nights for families in need and relies on over 1,200 volunteers and 40+ congregations.
*About the Stepanski Family Charitable Trust -The Stepanski Family Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) charitable trust established by Jane & Tony Stepanski to support national charitable, scientific, literary, cultural, arts and educational organizations with an emphasis on the great New York Metropolitan Area.
How To Participate In The Event
Details: Participants in Cardboard Box City raise a minimum of $100 in pledges and contributions and sleep overnight in a cardboard box “home” as a resident of Box City. There will be activities, entertainment and food for participants. Awards will be given to the participants who raise the most money and to the most creative dwelling. Cardboard Box City is open to all: families, adults and children (children must be supervised by an adult), scouting troops (youth to adult ratio 5:1), and youth groups. Participants supply their own dwellings (usually large refrigerator, washer/dryer boxes that can be picked up at appliance stores). There is also the opportunity to be a “virtual resident” by raising the pledges and sleeping at home.
This Saturday, we were thrilled to celebrate the service of our committed Volunteers and to meet the new Executive Director Christine Carter-Love! Now, more than ever, we are committed in our resolve to provide innovative solutions to end family homelessness.We are eternally grateful to our champion and Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D and forever indebted to our Founder Linda Stahl for her vision!
Support Family Promise of Monmouth County as we campaign to raise the necessary funds to get us into this new building at Fort Monmouth. In our first phase, we need to raise $125,000. Your gift of support is testament that you believe in our mission and the services we provide to homeless families throughout Monmouth County.
Our photo album from this year’s Promise of Spring, our annual fundraising dinner held on 4/20 /17, at Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune. This year, we proudly presented the 2017 Hope Award to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno who has shown outstanding leadership in New Jersey. Her dedication resonates on so many levels as she serves as a positive role model not just in the state of New Jersey, but throughout the country. Her long-standing commitment to supporting families in need aligns with Family Promise’s mission. Thanks to all that attended and support our mission we raised $20,996.07.
Seedlr® Spotlight: Family Promise® of Monmouth County
Monmouth County sits in Central New Jersey, is included in the New York City metropolitan area, and is in the top 1.2% of counties in the United States by measurement of wealth. For the vast majority of its inhabitants, the day begins by waking up in a safe, high-income neighborhood, going to a well-paying, white-collar job, and returning at night to that same neighborhood to get some well-deserved sleep in a warm bed.
However, a different kind of community does exist in Monmouth County, New Jersey. This small community is often neglected, or rather, not even known about by the greater population of the area. For these people, life would be very different. If you were a part of this small community, your day may consist of keeping your children in a day center, working with volunteers to find employment, having to rely on donations for your meals, and spending the night in a church congregation with dozens of other people whose circumstances are similar to your own.
While this situation is not ideal, it provides an invaluable service — keeping people from living on the street, and providing them with safety, security, nourishment, and the prospect of finding a job that can provide them a means to get back on their feet and support themselves and their families.
That is the goal of Family Promise® of Monmouth County. Although the organization’s roots are in New Jersey, Family Promise operates in 42 states, with more than 200 affiliates and over 180,000 active volunteers. Elaine Young first became involved with the Monmouth County division of in 2001, when that branch of Family Promise asked for a volunteer coordinator.
Elaine comes from a mental health counselor background, a role which she still continues to this day, with a private practice in New Jersey. After seven years of providing shelter, food, and job opportunities for the homeless in the area, she joined the executive board. In 2011, Elaine became Board President of Family Promise of Monmouth County. This branch of Family Promise had begun forming in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2001 that it was first able to open its doors and offer its services to guests.
“I originally started working at one of the congregations that would house the homeless in [Monmouth County],” said Elaine. The board before Elaine’s appointment “did the legwork” initially, gathering funding, identifying which congregations were candidates for hosting the homeless, and convincing those same congregations to be hosts for Family Promise. The principle services that a Family Promise congregation provides is that of a temporary place of refuge for the homeless until they can support themselves and move out.
“Each congregation houses people for a week,” noted Elaine. Those who need shelter may need to rotate from one congregation to another while they seek employment and financial stability. While the Family Promise organization has been around for over 25 years, each branch must face individual challenges.
“There are always hurdles for nonprofits,” said Elaine. “We have hurdles even now.” She breaks these issues down into categories. Some are internal problems— for instance, it’s a continual struggle to have enough volunteers, and it is necessary to make sure that those who do volunteer are equipped to deal appropriately with the homeless patrons.
Volunteers may have preconceived views that the homeless don’t have jobs for lack of initiative, or that they are dangerous. Elaine notes that there is extensive training in place to alleviate that sentiment at Family Promise.
“Many of our volunteers have never been in direct contact with the homeless,” Elaine noted. “So we have a hurdle of overcoming that.” This “place of judgment” may be difficult to change, but volunteers almost always “have their expectations blown” by their interactions with the people sheltered by the congregation. There is a notion that the majority of the homeless are in that position by their own doing — that they are too lazy to find a job, that they are content to live on government assistance and handouts, or that they are criminals and drug addicts with habits that consume all of their income. While these stereotypes certainly are true for some of the people that Elaine helps, they are in the vast minority.
“The majority of people who come through [Family Promise of Monmouth County] are parents with children. The working poor,” said Elaine. “They’re often working full-time at minimum wage and just making ends meet. All it takes is a small issue — you get laid off, you have to take time off because your child is sick — and now you’re behind on bills, you’re out of your savings.” It’s a predicament that could happen to many who live paycheck to paycheck.
Another issue that often causes people to have to depend on places like Family Promise is disability; the disabled can have limited job opportunities, as they may not be considered for many positions that would be available at their experience level. While Family Promise works to find jobs for everyone they house, the
Outside of the internal struggles of running a division of Family Promise, there are the external ones. First there is the “not in my backyard” problem, as Elaine noted.
“Communities and the local government may not be happy about a congregation starting to house the homeless.” Residents, especially those of communities with high socioeconomic standing, such as Monmouth County, are often opposed to the sudden influx of homeless to the area. In one case, Elaine recalled the mayor of a town becoming personally involved and shutting down the plan of opening a day center at a rectory. In that case, Family Promise had to abandon the plan to use that specific rectory for housing.
Another factor that drove many to homelessness was Superstorm Sandy. A lot of affordable housing was destroyed, and the storm displaced hundreds of people in Monmouth County who were already from a place of low economic standing. There is still not enough housing for those who have been displaced, as not all of the destroyed affordable housing has been rebuilt.
More recently, there has been a trend in decreasing government assistance for nonprofits, in general.
“The current administration has decreased overall funding to nonprofits,” said Elaine “and [Family Promise of Monmouth County] gets one-third of our budget from various HUD [Housing and Urban Development] grants for the homeless.”
Elaine believes there has been a recent attitude shift towards nonprofit causes; a “pendulum swing.” She says that an “out for me” mindset is being reinforced by top government, and that people are picking up on that. She notes that over time, giving fluctuates greatly, but we are currently in a large dip.
“That kind of attitude trickles down form the top — the idea of why help [the homeless] if they don’t help themselves?” As a result, volunteerism has gone down significantly. Not just in New Jersey, but nationwide. As it currently stands, Family Promise of Monmouth County has somewhere between 1,000 and 1,300 volunteers, with 13 main congregations and about 20 supporting congregations scattered around the United States.
Still, the Family Promise model is a model that works. Elaine thinks the business model of the Monmouth County branch has remained pretty much the same for the entire time she has been on the executive board. While the day-to-day responsibilities of the shelter have been almost the same for those 16 years, the way her organization reaches its audience, and the way it helps its patrons find jobs, has changed.
“Technology has made an impact in how we help people,” said Elaine. “It’s now a priority to give graduating students a laptop, since that’s the key to finding careers and having job skills.” Technology has also enabled Family Promise of Monmouth County to better reach potential patrons. A Facebook page, an organization website, and a Twitter account have raised awareness about the organization, getting Elaine in touch with both those seeking the services of the congregations and those who wish to volunteer at a site.
Elaine believes that she is continually learning, and that it is this experience that has made her better equipped to run the organization. Still, she thinks there is more to be done.
“I would want to do more than house families for up to 90 days,” she said, “including getting [the Family Promise of Monmouth County homeless] permanent housing, and subsidizing them so they can have better access to schools and jobs.” She hopes that these advantages would have long-term impact on the people who stay at one of the congregations. “With [those advantages], people will eventually be able to support themselves, so they won’t have to worry about a repeat need for shelter housing.” Unfortunately, those services are currently unavailable to participating congregations of Family Promise of Monmouth County. There is just not enough of a budget, a common problem among nonprofits.
Making progress towards such goals is difficult, but awareness may be the first step. Elaine sees the value of a platform like Seedlr, which provides an online community for users to post about specific nonprofits, along with the ability to donate to those nonprofits directly through the site. According to Elaine, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are limited, because posts are seen only by people who have an account with those platforms.
Online giving, available through outlets such as Seedlr and nonprofit websites, have advantages over traditional mail donations. Nonprofits can utilize gifts almost immediately, without having to wait for the mail to arrive and then first having to cash a check and wait for it to clear. The advent of online donations, however, is often slow-going.
“We’re pretty evenly split when it comes to how people give,” said Elaine. “A lot of our donors are older, and they prefer to go ‘old-school’ by sending a check.”
Still, any donations are much better than none at all. If you would like to become involved with supporting Family Promise of Monmouth County, there are several ways to do so. If you are locally-based in the Monmouth County area, you can call directly and volunteer. This may include providing food, cleaning facilities, or helping find jobs for the homeless in Family Promise congregations. You can also donate through the Family Promise website or by mail. However you choose to help, you can be secure in the knowledge that you are making a real difference for those with nowhere else to go. And it’s that difference that keeps Elaine so passionate about the organization.
“The Board President position is voluntary for me,” said Elaine. She believes that it’s that love for her work that is necessary for any position in the nonprofit field. “You need to make sure you love it first. Sometimes it’s a lot of work. It’s got to be something you can put your heart into.” And that’s a promise Elaine plans on keeping.
Family Promise, Longtime Homeless Advocates, Get A Home Of Their Own
Splashed with color and drenched in sunlight, the spacious new Family Promise Day Center in a relatively quiet section of Fort Monmouth has been designed to make its homeless guests feel like they’ve arrived home.
The day center is where up to 14 people in the temporary care of Family Promise will spend their days trying to secure a better job or stable housing. Pending approvals from the Oceanport Planning Board, the day center will open in December and become a base of operations for the nonprofit, replacing its current Aberdeen location.
“It’s kind of ironic for us,” said Elaine Young, Family Promise’s board president, a licensed professional counselor who began helping Family Promise when it started in 2001. “There has always been this uncertainty for us – if the rent gets too high we’ll have to find another place, or if they no longer want us, we’ll have to move. We can understand now how our families feel when they finally find a home.”
This month, the Family Promise organization became the official owners of the 2,800-square-foot property on 1.7 acres of land, after paying FMERA $1 for a 99-year lease for Building 501, formerly known as the fort’s counseling center. Family Promise is the beneficiary of a federal rule that decommissioned U.S. Army property must make room available for social organizations serving the homeless.
It is very good news for the organization which has been paying $2,400 a month in rent for the Aberdeen Main Street location for the past two years, after moving four other times. That money can now be put toward a capital reserve fund and other necessities, such as a build-out of two bathrooms to add showers, tweaks to the small kitchen, ADA compliance for both, and large lockers to hold their guest families’ possessions. To date, the organization has raised $105,000 of the $125,000 needed.
Preteen tackles homelessness concerns in her community
Eleven-year-old Meghan DeLuca is a savvy veteran in advocating for the homeless and hungry
by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — A short walk to dinner in the nation’s capital became a life-changing experience for 8-year-old Meghan DeLuca. The New Jersey native was walking with her family in Washington, D.C., and came across several homeless people, including a few who were sleeping in boxes. Instead of ignoring them or closing her eyes to their anguish, young Meghan made a compassionate choice to do something about it. Four years later, with the help of her congregation at First Presbyterian Church of Belmar, she’s raised nearly $8,000 to help homeless individuals and families get back on their feet.
With the help of her mom, Meghan found her calling at Cardboard Box City, a one-night, annual event held near her home that raises money for a Family Promise shelter. In Cardboard Box City, participants build their own shelters out of cardboard on a Friday night, partake in a soup line dinner, listen to music and formerly homeless people convey their experiences. Participants then retire to their newly crafted cardboard “homes” for the evening. But to take part, you need to raise money.
“Meghan decided she wanted to have a ‘lemonade’ stand and sell rainbow bracelets,” Erin DeLuca, Meghan’s mom, said in a story she wrote for the church newspaper in November 2014. “All year she and her Aunt Cathy made various rainbow loom bracelets, key chains and pencil toppers. She sold the items in her stand throughout the summer.”
In that first year, Meghan raised around $1,000 for Family Promise. In 2016, she upped that amount to approximately $4,000 with the help of donations from her congregation and the Monmouth Presbytery, which donated their entire $1,000 offering from a September meeting.
Meghan does not limit herself, or her family, to a one-night-a-year commitment. She recently included her mother, brother and others from her church in feeding homeless families that were staying with a local Baptist church. She helps her Sunday school prepare bag lunches that are distributed to women and children that attend the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) clinic held monthly at Belmar; walks with the CROP Walk; and performs Minutes for Mission around Belmar’s hunger ministry program. Many credit her for bringing homelessness and hunger issues to the congregation’s attention.
“She motivates so many people through her experience and her love, and she just has such a big heart,” said Nancy Steel, a member at First Presbyterian Church Belmar. “If it were not for Meghan we would not have been at the Cardboard Box City events or Family Promise. She is definitely an advocate for the homeless and the hungry.”
*Details: Participants in Cardboard Box City raise a minimum of $100 in pledges and contributions and sleep overnight in a cardboard box “home” as a resident of Box City. There will be activities, entertainment and food for participants. Awards will be given to the participants who raise the most money and to the most creative dwelling. Cardboard Box City is open to all: families, adults and children (children must be supervised by an adult), scouting troops (youth to adult ratio 5:1), and youth groups. Participants supply their own dwellings (usually large refrigerator, washer/dryer boxes that can be picked up at appliance stores). There is also the opportunity to be a “virtual resident” by raising the pledges and sleeping at home. *What we need you to do:
Ask the youth group at your congregation/school if they will participate
Post flyers around your congregation/school
Ask to have flyers posted in newsletters/bulletins
See below for brochure and forms Please contact Linda at email@example.com or 732-495-1050 if you need more information.
Take a look at photos from our last year’s’ Cardboard Box City event held overnight from October 14th – 15th at Monmouth Christ of Church in Tinton Falls and raised 22,838.12. This event is held to raise awareness for homelessness in Monmouth County. Participants of our Cardboard Box City fundraiser include middle and high school students, faith-based youth groups, 4-H and Scouting groups, as well as congregations of all denominations. They all work together to raise awareness and funds for homeless families. Each participant will raise $100 or more in pledges to spend the night in their hand-crafted cardboard boxes.