Updates from Community Neighbor Grant Recipients

We are pleased to provide the following updates from some of our Hoboken Family Alliance Community Neighbor Grant Awardees. Your membership and attendance of our events help support these grants, which are a big part of HFA's mission.

Hudson County CASA

This is the tenth consecutive year that the Hoboken Family Alliance (HFA) has funded Hudson County CASA. Hudson County CASA recruits, trains and supervises everyday people who make a direct impact in the life of a foster child. Last year, CASA served 230 Hudson County foster children with 46 being placed in permanent homes. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and gather information from everyone involved in the child’s life, including family members, teachers, doctors, attorneys, and social workers.

While the goal for all CASA children is a safe and permanent home, it can take years to accomplish this goal. Hoboken Family Alliance’s Community Neighbor Grant has helped improve foster children’s lives through CASA’s Project Helping Hands program, which was created to provide necessities and amenities not readily available to these children in need. This fund has substantially increased CASA’s ability to help the foster children we serve and by leveraging a modest amount of support, give them things that enhance their confidence and bring happiness.

This year, Project Helping Hands enhanced the life of one talented 14 year old boy in particular. Tequan is currently living in a non-relative resource home as he attends middle school while playing two sports. Tequan loves basketball and football and asked that CASA supply him with appropriate sneakers for his athletics. Thanks to the grant given for Project Helping Hands, CASA was able to give Tequan the gear he needed. Tequan will be graduating from middle school in the Spring and CASA will also be paying for his class graduation ring.

In addition to this, Hoboken Family Alliance’s grant contributed to the following Project Helping Hands projects:

  • Backpacks for over 200 foster children returning for the school year
  • Bouquet of flowers for one teenager at her high school graduation which only CASA attended
  • A futon for a reunified family who could not afford a couch for their living room
  • A Shoprite gift card for a father who recently lost his job after being reunified with his 6 year old son
  • Uniforms for a family who would have otherwise not received them in time for school
  • Hair braiding at a salon for a foster girl who didn’t want to return to school because her hair looked so messy

Hudson County CASA is grateful to its many supporters and to Hoboken Family Alliance who provides funds for Project Helping Hands. To make a donation or to find out more information about becoming a volunteer please visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org or call (201) 795-9855.

Beverly Savage
Executive Director

True Mentors

Thanks to partners like HFA, TRUE Mentors launched our  Enrichment Club Program with over 30 children in attendance, setting a new record for September program enrollment! Our average class attendance is 32 students each week, up from 25 students last year. We also launched our largest teen internship program to date, enrolling 11 new interns and 9 returning interns as well as 25 mentors and workshop support staff. The numbers below tell part of the story. Beyond that, I share a few stories to help paint the full picture.

This year, thanks to an increase in HFA funding, we were able to hold 5 summer field trips, host a Halloween field trip to the Mason Civic League for pumpkin carving, host a field trip to a paint studio and we are able to host our first ever Christmas Party at the Boys & Girls Club!For the second year in a row, thanks to HFA funding, we were able to host a spring musical,  Aladdin, with Garden Street School of Performing arts. They provided a director and scripts, while HFA’s grant helped pay for the production space and props. Last year, Amiah played a supporting role in the HFA funded musical, Annie, and spoke of the amount of confidence she gained. She “really got confidence out the musical theater.” This year, Amiah was the star of the show, performing as Aladdin in front of a full house at St. Matthew’s Church. For most of our students, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to star in a show on stage.

This summer, our mentees were super excited to spend a night at the movies to see Despicable Me 3! Twenty-two minions, I mean mentees, joined us on this field trip. This was our first trip of the summer and the kids had a blast eating popcorn and laughing at the minions. Our second trip of the summer was to Funplex in East Hanover. Our mentees specifically requested this trip and volunteers and mentees enjoyed racing around on go-carts, playing laser tag and checking out the waterpark. Our last trip of the summer was to Mad Science at the Monroe Center. Our younger mentees learned how to program robots and each had their own robot to drive around the room! Our mentees enjoy learning about science and are excited to go back for another class this fall!  We also continued our community service projects this summer, with students as young as 7 years old volunteering to paint faces at The Night Out Against Crime this summer.

As exciting as this all is, I am most excited about our growth in the number of children we are serving in our weekly enrichment club program and the TRUE one-to-one mentoring relationships that formed as a result. Phil and Ricky first met in Clubs back in February. Their second week together they hit it off and Ricky asked Phil to be his mentor. The two have been best buds ever since! At our End of the Year Celebration at PierA, mentee Sofia asked Cathleen to be her mentor. It was truly an amazing moment to see; this TRUE relationship would not be possible without the support from organizations like you.

We look to build on these successes in the school year and look forward to applying for the Hoboken Family Alliance  Community Neighbor’s Awards Grant again this year. Your dollars truly make a difference in the children of Hoboken.

TRUE starts with YOU,
Katie Eades
Executive Director/Program Director, TRUE Mentors

Hoboken Historical Museum

Now in its second year, the Hoboken Historical Museum has hosted family friendly programs at the Hoboken Fire Department Museum, 213 Bloomfield Street. With the generous assistance from The Hoboken Family Alliance, the Museum was able to continue to host weekly Story time for families and children 2-5 years old, free of charge. During these programs, museum staff members read books relating to topics of: fire trucks, firefighters, fire safety, and local community helpers. The teaching of visual literacy through songs, rhymes, and picture books is the main factor that helps engage children, many of whom attend on a regular basis. The Fire Department Museum Story time is hosted every Sunday at 1:30 pm, and registration in not required.

In the month of February, the Museum hosted a Fire Safety Celebration Day, consisting of various arts and crafts, activities, and games that were fire safety and history related. Children and parents celebrated the ways in which firefighters keep our city safe, in the Fire Department Museum’s upstairs area. Activities included stop, drop, and roll Dalmatians, 911 tissue art, and too hot or not worksheets. With the help of parents, children also had the chance to write thank you letters to local firefighters. The Hoboken Fire Department hosted a stop, drop, and roll demonstration, and provided tours of their fire trucks.

The Hoboken Family Alliance grant allowed the Museum to continue to host these programs, and increase local awareness of the Fire Department Museum. Through interaction during each program, families had a chance to understand the historical significance that the Fire Department has in our community. These programs have allowed the Museum to expand their limitations, and for the first year open their doors to Junior Firefighter Summer Camp, hosted during the month of July.

We are extremely grateful for the ongoing sponsorship from the Hoboken Family Alliance. With their assistance, the Museum continues to educate the public on the importance of local history through family friendly programs and events for all to enjoy.

Maria Lara
Education Curator

Hudson Milestones

The Hudson Milestones Child Development Center, formerly located at 375 Monmouth Street in Jersey City, New Jersey, received the honor earlier this year of being awarded a grant towards the implementation of theme-related curriculum from the Hoboken Family Alliance.

The Child Development Center (CDC) was the only program in Hudson County to provide specialized day care services to children aged birth to three with developmental delays and developmental disabilities, and was just one of many programs catering to the special needs population within Hudson Milestones, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. The CDC provided an array of services for these children, including free tuition, free door to door transportation, and free meals and snacks.

To ensure that the curriculum at the CDC continued to meet the highest standards, according to the Grow NJ Kids’ quality rating based on the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS), the recommendation that we purchase classroom materials to improve the rating of our classroom centers was pursued. The goal was to purchase theme related materials so that our staff would be able to create vibrant and multidimensional lessons that would excite and engage the children, and provide a multitude of ways they could learn, regardless of their developmental abilities.

Some of the themes in mind were such that had plentiful areas of topics to discuss: Transportation, Animals, Shapes, Colors, Weather, Holidays, etc. The theme related materials to be purchased and incorporated would be books, puppets, songs, activities, raw supplies to make projects, and any other relevant and reasonable items that would be a great accompaniment to the theme.

To help achieve our goal of implementing this new theme related curriculum, we sought the Hoboken Family Alliance’s grant to fund the purchase of the theme related materials. The award was granted to the Hudson Milestones Child Development Center, and the dream became a reality.

An illustrative example of the way in which the CDC staff were able to utilize the funds for the grant can be given with the explanation of our Transportation themed month. The children would read and discuss books about race cars, bikes, trains and other vehicles (some of the books even contained moving parts to manipulate). The children would watch videos about different vehicles, and craft painted paper vehicles. Throughout the monthly theme, teachers and children used various resources and activities to expand the children’s knowledge and experiences regarding transportation. The teachers asked the children to bring in photos of the transportation used at home, to share with the class. The teachers connected different jobs to the common types of transportation used for those jobs (e.g. school bus driver and school bus). As part of their pretend play, the children would act out these job roles, use blocks to create roads and bridges, make vehicles out of paper, toilet and paper towel rolls, and anything else that worked in their minds, and drive around wearing pretend helmets.

Each of these interactive and multifaceted themed curriculums were implemented to supplement the broad knowledge the children already had about a topic, so that they could understand more in depth, and use the new vocabulary learned to speak more specifically about a topic (e.g. the spine of the book is where you could find the name of the author, who wrote the book, and the name of the illustrator, who drew the pictures).

During the conclusion of each theme, the children would sit in a circle and talk about their experiences. It was evident during these recaps that the children’s self-confidence was enhanced at being able to use new vocabulary words, such as air pump and brakes when discussing bikes, and they listened well and continued to learn more while hearing their classmates’ accounts.

The children enrolled at the Child Development Center greatly benefitted from the generosity of the Hoboken Family Alliance, in a way that will forever stay with them.

Sadly, the Hudson Milestones Child Development Center closed its doors on September 30, 2017, after 54 years of serving infants and toddlers with developmental delays and developmental disabilities, due the Department of Children and Family cutting the funding. The Hoboken Family Alliance did a great service over many years for the Hudson Milestones Child Development Center while it was in operations, and those at Hudson Milestones will always be grateful for this.

Ije Okpokwasili, M.A.
Developmental Specialist & Early Intervention Coordinator
Hudson Milestones Administrative Office

In Jesus’ Name

Thank you for the $1600 security blanket for mothers with  babies who needed to turn to our food pantry for help this year. We had 32 babies dependent on us during emergencies over the last 7 months This year your grant was doubly important since an usually higher number of these babies were dependent on specialized formulas due to their health issues, (one baby has a tracheotomy and isn’t able to eat baby food at all so formula is the only source of nutrition). There were also several premature births. Specialized formulas like Neosure and Nutramagin cost between $25-$30 for a can of powder covering less than a week. We also needed to purchase formulas with a soy base or Alimentum. All this was only possible because your grant money is set aside and designated to aid ONLY the most vulnerable who need emergency food.  We had a way to respond. The WIC program which provides free Enfamil formula to poorer households often has a one to two month gap in providing specialty formulas. A doctor prescription then Medicaid approval is needed first -  so having your grant money this year was literally a lifesaver. Thank you for your support.

April Harris
In Jesus’ Name

ASCSDC (Jubilee Center) Birthday Parties

Imagine, as a child, you walk through the front doors of the Jubilee Center (JC) and up the stairs to the main room surprised to see birthday decorations, a table with rows of cupcakes, and bags of gifts waiting to be opened. Immediately you know today is your birthday celebration and a big smile comes across your face. This is what our children get to experience during our monthly birthday event.

HFA have been helping to host the Jubilee Center children’s monthly birthday parties for over a decade. These birthday parties provide our children a day of fun and excitement. Revolving around different themes including Robots, Star Wars, Bugs, and Holidays, our children get to play games, make crafts, eat pizza and cupcakes, and be a kid. As Cindy A. states, “It has been so rewarding doing these parties for them. I love it!”

The birthday celebration, which is held on a Friday each month during the school year, starts off with an educational word search activity. Whoever is able to solve the puzzle has their name placed in a bag. As the children begin a drumroll, a name is selected and that child is given a gift. Every child who celebrates their birthday for that month also gets a gift and a gift card for $25.00.

Recently, I asked our counselors what they consider to be their favorite activities with the children. Counselor, Johnnie Dyer, indicated that the birthday parties are his favorite. He loves the excitement and happiness we bring them during that day, keeping in mind that some of our kids may not experience birthday celebrations at home.

Including the generosity of our volunteers, and Mike Fasciano of Margherita’s restaurant provides the pizza, the financial support of the Hoboken Family Alliance (HFA) has enabled us to make sure the birthday parties continue. Through the HFA grant we can purchase items needed ranging from birthday supplies to gift certificates.

As the Interim Executive Director of the JC, and in conjunction with staff, we work everyday to make sure the Jubilee Center provides opportunities for our children to thrive. I am grateful to HFA for helping to make this happen. Through the birthday celebrations, there is no doubt our children are creating positive memories they will carry with them throughout their lives. Thank you HFA!

Leslie K. Brown
Interim Executive Director