Did you know on an average day in Monmouth County there are 200 children who are homeless?
RED BANK, NJ — Addressing the systemic problem of homelessness in Monmouth County has long been on Lunch Break’s radar. Community members without adequate housing have sought the resource center’s help with life’s basic necessities, among them, shelter.
Having partnered in the past with Family Promise of Monmouth County, a non-profit in Oceanport providing family services, assistance and temporary housing to those struggling with financial insecurity, Lunch Break saw an opportunity to merge the two complementary organizations as an avenue to offering families and individuals in desperate situations, a way off the streets, and a temporary place to call home.
As a result, the social service resource center at 121 Drs James Parker Blvd. is proud to welcome Family Promise into its network of programs.
In this collaborative effort, Lunch Break and Family Promise are coordinating resources to assist local communities to address the root causes of family homelessness. Through prevention services before families reach crisis, shelter and case management should they become homeless, and stabilization programs once they have secured housing, Family Promise, under the Lunch Break umbrella, will ensure families remain independent, empowering them toward economic stability.
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“We knew this was the right time to bring the two organizations together,” said Lunch Break Executive Director Gwendolyn Love. “So many of the people we encounter need an escape from the heat and cold; somewhere they can shower and sleep. They are alone and, often, forgotten on the streets. It’s heartbreaking.”
“Lunch Break wants to restore our community members’ dignity, safeguard their well-being, so they will eventually take the next step toward self-sufficiency and building generational equity,” said Lunch Break Board President Philip Antoon. “Lunch Break and Family Promise are very much aligned in this mission.”
Love saw the opportunity to combine organizations as “completely making sense,” since both were sharing resources and clients, offering them access to a range of food and clothing services, as well as financial and employment skills counseling.
“Over the past two years, Family Promise has seen a dramatic increase in need among the most vulnerable families in our community coupled with a more challenging and complicated service model. I am thrilled to be a part of this team of innovators that identified an opportunity to more efficiently and effectively serve our community by reducing duplication of services and sharing resources,” said Family Promise Board President Jessica Stepanski. “Together, we are better and stronger,” she added.
FPMC Board member Mark Zill believes aligning with Lunch Break would ultimately provide a better network of resources for community members living at or below the poverty line. “This merger will enable the Family Promise program to focus on its core mission, serve many more families in need, and expand into critical areas of prevention and longer-term stabilization.”
Lunch Break, in its 39th year, is planning to expand its facility to accommodate future growth in programs and services. The resource center launched a $12 million Capital Campaign in 2020 to increase the size of its footprint, adding 8,236 square feet to the building’s original 5,080-foot design, to accommodate a loading dock, larger warehouse, community gathering space, and a permanent home for its Life Skills Center. The site plan, prepared by architects Kellenyi Johnson Wagner, received unanimous approval from the Red Bank Zoning Board in 2020. The resource center hopes to break ground sometime this year.
Family Promise was established 20 years ago as a local response to family housing and financial crises in Monmouth County. Now, it has grown to more than 500 volunteers.
The organization has a proven track record of making an impact on the well-being of thousands. Families and individuals struggling to survive reach out to Family Promise for assistance with rebuilding their lives through skills training and ongoing support. The organization works with community agencies, faith-based services, churches and synagogues to provide supportive services, financial assistance, shelter, and food.
“When you Google Family Promise, two sentences pop up: ‘a non-profit organization … providing emergency shelter, food and clothing to families with children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.’ But when my son and I lost our home and all our belongings during the pandemic, and were referred to Family Promise, we were given so much more than that. We were provided not only with shelter, food and clothing, but with ongoing support and encouragement” said FPMC client Magdalena. “We met people who truly care and go out of their way to help — just like family does.”
FPMC Program Director Lenore Gibson also sees the merger as a big win for the community. “Getting a family stable and back on their feet is not easy. It involves networking of several agencies to pull services together. With Family Promise merging with Lunch Break it will allow us to have more access to meals, clothing, financial literacy programs, food, and many other programs.”
In addition to services provided by Family Promise, Lunch Break will continue to offer clients meal service and groceries, clothing, life skills training, and ESL classes and mentoring sessions for both adults and school-age children, free of charge.
Lunch Break is a registered 501© 3 nonprofit. The resource center freely provides food, clothing, social services, fellowship and life skills to those struggling with financial insecurity as a path to well-being and self-sufficiency.
For updates, follow Lunch Break on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. For a virtual tour of Family Promise of Monmouth County