HomeFront Celebrates 25 Years
We know we will continue to have compassionate individuals and caring businesses, congregations, schools and organizations working with us who will continue to see the benefit of helping those around us who are less fortunate. The following milestones from the last 25 years make us grateful—and encouraged as we look forward to the next 25:
Connie Mercer and volunteers organize around her kitchen table to deliver food to homeless families in Route 1 motels.
Our wonderful after-school program, Joy, Hopes and Dreams, began to enrich children’s lives and to mitigate negative developmental effects on children living in motels.
Our name was formally changed from the Exchange Club to HomeFront. The first Board of Directors was formed.
Connie finds a soul-mate in Celia Bernstein, a real estate professional with a social vision. Our service-enriched housing programs begin and we secure a location for the FreeStore.
HomeFront purchases our permanent, safe, dignified and affordable residential housing property at Brunswick Court in Trenton.
HomeFront opens our new headquarters at 1880 Princeton Avenue in Lawrenceville.
Our first Family Preservation Center for homeless mothers and children opens in an old dormitory at the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf.
HomeFront starts to help women get their high school equivalencies. This grows to include Microsoft Office certification. The Hire Expectations program begins.
ArtSpace, a comprehensive therapeutic art program, is created by passionate AmeriCorp VISTA worker Ruthann Traylor.
HomeFront assumes management of the Lawrence Neighborhood Center and begins work creating a vibrant community center for all Lawrence Township residents.
Children’s Programs evolve to include academically-enriched and always fun summer camps.
We begin a pilot program to teach parents how to cook healthy meals on a budget. Groups meet once a month at Chambers Walk Café in Lawrenceville.
After years of work and planning, HomeFront’s New Family Campus, a one-stop social service campus of healing and hope, becomes a reality.
Don Hofmann, Former Board President & Campaign Chair
“In the late 1990s, HomeFront’s offices were in a single family home on Route 1. It was incredibly crowded and packed with food, clothing, books and toys, in addition to makeshift offices.. Connie provided some metrics on HomeFront’s activities and asked me if I thought we would need more space in the future. After examining the information and looking at the need to grow services, I concluded we needed more space right then! Celia found the building at 1880 Princeton Avenue and put together a financing plan. Connie and I contacted 10 people, and 9 of them contributed the bulk of the $400,000 we needed to take this big step. So it was very exciting, years later, to chair the campaign to raise the $6 million needed to renovate HomeFront’s new Family Campus. What a thrill it was to see the community come together to make this vision a reality. My wish is that HomeFront will still be making miracles many, many years from now.”
Julia, Former HomeFront Client
“In 2009 I was pregnant and living with my one-year-old son at home with my mom in Lawrence when everything came crashing down. My mom passed away and I had no way to pay the rent on her apartment and was about to become homeless. Someone told me about HomeFront and my child and I ended up at the Family Preservation Center and stayed there for a whole year. They had their work cut out for them with me! I had always had my mom or dad to lean on and wasn’t used to doing things for myself.
“Today I am the manager of my husband’s roofing business and we are such a happy family. I owe my blessings to the angels at HomeFront. My wish is that they will always, always be there for people like me.”
Dan Haggerty, Donor & Real Estate Attorney
“I am very fortunate to have been involved with HomeFront almost from the beginning. My commitment has been primarily focused on working with Celia Bernstein in real estate transactional matters, including the headquarters building, the family campus and various housing initiatives. It has been truly gratifying to be involved in the creative and persistent process that has enabled HomeFront to get so many families into housing and programs where they have a chance to thrive. My wish for this amazing organization is sustainability. I know that with the help of the community, HomeFront has, and will continue to have for many years to come, the necessary pieces in place to effectively, efficiently and compassionately serve those who need them.”
Chris Marchetti, Director, Joy, Hopes and Dreams
“I came to HomeFront right out of college as an AmeriCorps Vista and did all kinds of things there, but mostly worked with the kids. It was such an amazing experience that I stayed after my term was up and became the director of the Joy, Hopes and Dreams program. The facilities and equipment used to be so basic; I’m amazed at how far we’ve come. But HomeFront is not, and hopefully never will be, about buildings and computers. It’s about inspiring. We do our best to inspire young and old hearts alike everyday. But the truth is, we’re the ones inspired by the kindness and dedication of our wonderful volunteers, our generous donors, and maybe most of all, by the countless truly good and caring area families and children that make up the HomeFront family.”
Jalissa, Former HomeFront Client
“HomeFront is like the best family anyone could hope for. I have a little girl who is legally blind and, after losing my apartment last February, I came to HomeFront with nothing. The case managers there took a real interest in me and my daughter. I thought I had found an apartment and was so excited but two weeks later the landlord gave it away. I was so distraught but then I met with Miss Cari and she told me my daughter was eligible for a special program, which means a better home and better schools. Now we are in a two bedroom house with HomeFront furniture and a backyard! Miss Liza also found me a new ophthalmologist for my daughter who says she is getting better! She still attends daycare at HomeFront while I’m at work.
“I am so grateful to HomeFront and proud that I can help them now. I coordinated over $5,000 worth of donated items for them from Babies-R-Us.
“My wish for them is to thrive and continue to be who they are. I want them to go on and on and on…”
Paula, Former HomeFront Client
“I was working two jobs paying $1,300 rent a month and $300 a week for my daughter’s tutoring. I was spending all of my paycheck on bills and I lost my car because I couldn’t make the payments. Celia Bernstein heard about my plight and changed my life with a car and a lovely HomeFront apartment. My wish is that HomeFront would get an enormous amount of money and expand into other states. There are people like me everywhere.”