RWJ Reaches Out with Talent and Treasure

The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Somerset County has received a generous $25,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which will be used to help maintain our much-needed outreach for homeless families in the community.

As a further gesture of their support of IHN’s mission, nine employees from the Foundation also spent a team-building day at the Flynn Day Center in Somerville, where they brightened the facility with a new coat of paint and assembled furniture for use by our clients.

“Each year our team picks a new community outreach project,” said Cookie Acot, an administrative coordinator at the Foundation. “I was familiar with IHNSC’s great work through board member Christine Petrane, so I recommended that we consider it for 2018. We all felt that it was the perfect match for the Foundation and it obviously meets a critical need here in Somerset County.”

Brian O’Neil, Chief Investment Officer for the Foundation, noted that IHNSC’s three-phased approach to providing a continuum of care for the homeless dovetails nicely with the Foundation’s focus on healthy communities.

“Across the country we’re supporting large and small organizations that are working hard to remove the barriers to healthy viable communities,” he explained. “We were impressed with IHNSC’s philosophy of helping at-risk families with shelter, financial support and advocacy. Plus, they have a strong network of community volunteers to help sustain these valuable programs.”

Additionally, a key benefit of the team-building day was that the Foundation’s employees got to see first-hand how its grant would be put to work in Somerset County, he said.

“It’s extremely gratifying to receive this generous grant and team support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” said Alyssa Martini, IHNSC executive director. “Since the economic downturn, all nonprofits are struggling to achieve their fundraising goals. It’s comfort to see that an organization like this foundation understands the homeless crisis we have in Somerset County and what IHNSC is doing to help prevent families from falling through the cracks.”

Brian Wood, IHN Volunteer

It’s Fundraising Season

IHN-SC Holiday Cookie Bake-off and SaleConnecting with the IHNSC’s mission is an investment into offering stable supports for one of Somerset County’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations. Proceeds benefit all IHNSC programs including our Emergency Shelter Program, Sunrise Transitional House, Phase 2, Sound Minds, Rapid Rehousing and Daycare Plus. Each of these programs provides families with the necessary tools needed for lasting independence through case management, financial counseling, mental health support and basic needs. Our fundraising efforts are crucial to our agency as we work towards maintaining our level of service for the families that we support.
The grand prize for our annual raffle is a $500 gift certificate to Broadway.com, while the grand prizes in each age group for our Holiday Cookie Bake-Off is a cooking class for the winner and up to 9 friends! Make sure to also ‘like’ us on FaceBook for weekly updates! To pre-register for the Bake-Off or if you are interested in joining our fundraising committee, please contact the office at (908) 704-1920.




Interns Learn While Helping Clients

Danielle Verde, Rutgers University School of Social Work

Danielle Verde, Rutgers University School of Social Work

The Flynn Day Center, better known as ‘home base’ for our emergency shelter clients, is surely a unique environment that encourages learning at its best. Each new day brings challenges, unpredictability, achievements and celebrations. What better way to expose social work hopefuls than to invite them into the daily world of IHNSC. Our interning program is one that offers experience, as well as the sobering reality of homelessness that exists within our affluent county.

Over the years, IHNSC has developed strong partnerships with several universities and high schools to provide a well-rounded intern experience. Three of our main interning programs include yearly students from Rutgers University, Raritan Valley Community College and Hillsborough High School, but others have included Immaculata High School, Seton Hall University, Bennington College, Liberty University and Kean University. We believe that it is important to give students a direct, hands-on approach to the reality of special needs social work while equipping them with the necessary skills that will prepare them for long-lasting careers.

There are many roles of an intern, from volunteering at host congregations to participating in case management and working on special projects. There is never a shortage of work to be done at IHNSC. We are confident that the interning opportunities that we provide are investments into the future of social work, as well as a way for IHNSC to provide support to an educational community that is so dedicated to our mission.

Give Thanks with Us on November 20th

IHN-SCAlways an IHNSC favorite, our Interfaith Thanksgiving service will be held on Tuesday, November 20th, hosted this year by North Branch Reformed Church in Bridgewater. What is always an evening of unity and peace, NBRC will be joined by clergy and choirs from Temple Beth-El of Hillsborough and St. Bernard of Clairvaux of Bridgewater. As per tradition, our interfaith service rotates between the three congregations each year to enjoy and experience each congregational community.

The evening will be filled with song, prayer and celebration of IHNSC and those that we serve. We encourage community members and congregants of all of our supporting congregations to join us, as we give thanks for our congregations, volunteers, staff, Board members and the inspiring and resilient families that come through our doors. The service will be held at 203 Route 28, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.

Homelessness Among Young Children

Homelessness Among ChildrenAn estimated 1 in 30 children experience homelessness annually and according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, almost half of the children that experience homelessness are under the age of 6 years old. Homeless children will always be one of the most vulnerable groups within the homeless population and a recent study published by Pediatrics (October 2018, Volume 142/Issue 4) supports that pediatricians must take a more active role in addressing family homelessness through planning and implementation. Their study, Timing and Duration of Pre- and Postnatal Homelessness and the Health of Young Children found that homeless children were more likely to have previous hospitalizations, developmental delays, and worse health overall. It was found that children who experience homelessness both pre- and postnatally and for more than 6 months were at the highest risk of negative health outcomes.

Recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics has put pediatric practices at the forefront of ensuring that family homelessness is being addressed by routinely asking families about their housing needs. Connecting families who are at risk with community services is becoming increasingly important as health care providers take a more active role in ensuring that children have a safe, secure environment to go home to.

What is IHNSC doing to address this identified need? Medical illness and wellness remain priorities of intensive case management with ongoing and emergency medical needs being continually evaluated. Wellness and illness visits are scheduled, with transportation arranged or provided. Children are brought up to date on immunizations and emergent and chronic medical issues are identified. Treatment plans are documented, implemented and advocated for. This is largely made possible by the Johnson & Johnson Somerset County Companies Contributions Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey. This grant, which IHNSC applies for annually, enables case management hours to ensure that all medical needs of our homeless families are addressed to lessen the risks for both adult and children. This grant also funds our mental health program, Sounds Minds, which is imperative for providing a well-rounded medical component to families by also addressing situational and chronic mental health diagnoses. Ensuring that the medical needs of IHNSC families are addressed will continue to be a top priority, as we aim to reduce risks and empower clients towards self-sufficiency.

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/4/e20174254

Sources: Sandel M , Sheward R, Ettinger de Cuba S, et al. Timing and Duration of Pre- and Postnatal Homelessness and the Health of Young Children. Pediatrics.2018: 142 (4) e20174254

Schickedanz A and Chung PJ. Addressing Family Homelessness in Pediatrics: Progress and Possibility. Pediatrics. 2018; 142 (4) Commentary.