THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
At HomeFront, we recently celebrated the opening of our new Family Campus, a beautiful and inspiring safe haven you helped create. Now that the Campus renovation is complete, we need you to be our partner in an even more important construction job – rebuiding the lives of homeless families in our community.
Our comprehensive, holistic approach to helping families works.
Last year, with your support, we were able to answer over 16,000 cries for help. We provided shelter, food, educational and employment assistance – and hope – that these families would not otherwise have received.
Our work does not stop during the holidays or on any day of the year. Because, for HomeFront families, the holidays – and every day – means living in the dark shadow of homelessness, hunger, joblessness. Without resources needed for a better and stable life.
Quite simply, the services we provide are not possible without friends like you. With your holiday donation, you can transform lives, help our most vulnerable neighbors become self-sustaining families and members of our community.
Today is a day you can change a life. Today, you can help make sure all children in this community have a home, not just for the holidays, but for forever.
Thank you for caring…and may you have a joyous holiday
GRAND OPENING FOR HOMEFRONT'S NEW FAMILY CAMPUS
Over 500 visitors from all walks of life celebrated the Grand Opening of the new HomeFront Family Campus at 101 Celia Way in Ewing on Wednesday, September 16. Supporters, volunteers and former clients crowded the bright hallways and rooms, eager for a first-hand look at this new “village of healing and hope” for families living in the shadow of homelessness.
This day had its origins over eight years ago, when Connie Mercer, HomeFront founder and executive director, and chief operating officer, Celia Bernstein learned that the small Naval base at the corner of Scotch Road and I-95 was being decommissioned. After a long and often complicated process, HomeFront took ownership of the 8.5-acre property in September 2013 and began the first phase of renovation, beginning with the 42,000 square foot main building. Click for more images from the grand opening.
Converting the utilitarian building into a warm and welcoming place for homeless families was a $6 million project and one that required extraordinary help from the community. HomeFront reached its fundraising goal, thanks to donations from over 1,000 donors, including heartwarming gifts from families who had previously been clients. And, in support of the Family Campus, HomeFront received its largest gift to date, a $1 million challenge grant from the Tepper Family Charitable Foundation. “This is more than a gift, it is an investment in the community and our collective future,” David Tepper says. “The ability to provide families in distress a place to reorganize and re-energize is vital to helping break the cycle of poverty.”
Celia Bernstein spearheaded the construction effort along with Andy Ward from Princeton Construction. “We had a tight timeline and limited budget but we made sure every dollar was well-spent in making this facility welcoming and beautiful,” Bernstein says proudly.
“It has taken hard work and incredible community support to turn the vision of the Family Campus into a reality,” says Connie Mercer. “And now that our new ‘forever home’ is completed, it is time to fill its rooms with the energy, the education, the support and the love it takes to transform lives.”
That sentiment is echoed by June Pecora, the volunteer and visionary behind the new teaching kitchen at the Campus, where clients learn how to cook nutritious, convenient, low-budget meals. “However, this kitchen is not just about teaching recipes,” Pecora explains. “The kitchen is the heart of the home. We all know how important it is for a family to be nurtured and the kitchen is where that happens.”
Other features at the new Family Campus include the following:
Mercer says, “Even as we settle into our new ‘home,’ we are already full of plans and working on next steps for the Campus, with a regional Diaper Bank and a Civic Engagement Center already in the works. We are moving ahead with all of the work we do, so we can help families build a better future for themselves. And we know that, just as they have been along every other step of the journey, we will be supported by all the caring, giving members of this community. We couldn’t do what we do without everyone’s support.”
HOMEFRONT FAMILY CAMPUS: THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
From the very beginning, transformation has been a fundamental principle to HomeFront. For over 24 years, we have helped homeless families turn their lives around, from dark days without even the most basic necessities to self-sustaining lives. With extraordinary support from the community, HomeFront has transformed a utilitarian, 42,000 square foot military building into a warm and welcoming place of healing and hope for homeless families.
Now that construction at the main Campus building is complete, we can continue our even more important work of helping homeless families transform their lives: mothers learning to cook in the teaching kitchen, children being taken care of in our loving childcare center, clients happily and creatively hard at work in the large ArtSpace studio and just as happily hard at work in the computer lab and WorkFirst classrooms. Even as we settle into our new "home," we are full of plans for the Campus, with a regional Diaper Bank and a Civic Engagement Center already in the works.
For the homeless families we serve, the future has now become brighter, thanks to the deeply caring and giving community in which we live.
GIVING HOMELESS FAMILIES A SAFE PLACE
MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING
Not only does HomeFront provide support services once a family becomes homeless, we also help prevent homelessness whenever possible.
This year HomeFront distributed over $500,000 in back rent, security deposits and utilities to families in crisis and on the brink of facing the horror of homelessness. These funds are carefully administered to families who have no significant issues other than being a tragic victim of the recession or bureaucracy. However, homelessness prevention is about much more than money and keeping the family in a home is only the first step.
For instance, HomeFront helps families navigate the bureaucratic system so they may receive the benefits and supports to which they are entitled. Often families have trouble figuring out where to go or who to call, or for that matter, if they qualify for assistance. Sometimes it’s a coat of fresh paint that will change a landlord’s eviction notice, or other times, it is helping a client tap into the proper social service agency.
Yet another aspect to homelessness prevention is teaching job skills and promoting education so that families can increase their earning power. We make sure families have all essential life-skill components of self-sufficiency – including teaching them how to care for their home ensuring that it’s kept tidy and clean; shopping smart so the family eats healthy and mom prepares nutritious meals; and making sure that children are nurtured academically and socially.
With each client, HomeFront’s goal is the same––to help them through the crisis so they can stay in their home.
Just as vaccines that prevent disease work, so does homelessness prevention. A family’s needs may be challenging, but the end result is a holistic preventive program that keeps families in their home!
Over 2000 Thanksgiving Baskets Given to Needy Families
This Thanksgiving over 2,000 families were able to enjoy a home-cooked meal in their own home––all made possible by a caring community. Thank you!
HomeFront And Weidel Team Up
HomeFront has joined forces with Weidel Real Estate to help combat homelessness. Buyers who purchase a home through Weidel can have a portion of the sales commission rebated as a tax-deductible donation to Home- Front. Read more
Stitches in Time - HomeFront's SewingSpace
A HomeFront Client Tells Her Story
NJTV: HomeFront Helps Get Christmas Gifts to Children
View story for video on HomeFront's program to get gifts to children for the holidays. Read more
HomeFront's SewingSpace Empowers Clients
Click "Read More" below for the video Read more
Poor Kids: Growing Up in Poverty
Take a few worthwhile minutes and view this gripping account of the economic crisis as seen through the eyes of children. Read more
Tyco Helps Families Make a House a Home
Moving into a home is a big first step for homeless families. But it takes a couch to sit on, a table to have meals together and lamps to do homework by--all things that make a house a home. With support from Tyco, HomeFront's Resource Network serves over 3,000 families a year making each home a special place.