Justice Notes

Urgent need for Congregations to host Homeless Families!

IHN just turned the corner on 30 years of service and completed a Strategic Plan with the Help of Harvard Community Partners, resulting in a plan to drive our organization forward to continue to be available to serve at-risk and homeless families (see related story below).
We celebrated our 30 th Anniversary at our October 2018 ‘A Journey Home’ breakfast fundraiser with a new video ( view the 30th anniversary video here) , and we had the benefit of Karen Olson, the Founder of IHN/Family Promise illustrating the history of the organization, and why we serve homeless families. Since its founding 30 years ago, IHN has served literally thousands of families. In 2018, we saw an increase of 15% of those in need of our services, resulting in 435 at risk and homeless challenged individuals benefiting from our programs.
In order to continue serving homeless families, we need help from our congregational partners old and new! One of the most urgent challenges we face is a decrease in the number of host congregations to provide emergency shelter and related services. As of this publishing, IHN is facing a shortage of 15 un-hosted weeks of emergency shelter in 2019. This means that the families in our Emergency Shelter program must be provided shelter at area hotels at a substantial cost of $3,500-$5000 a week!! This places an enormous financial constraint on the organization. Besides the cost, the families are lacking the positive personal care and attention of our fabulous congregational volunteers who help and inspire our families and care for their children.
 Did you know that Essex County has the highest homelessness rate in New Jersey? Hosting gives congregations direct service opportunities to help families in our own community.   If every congregation would take two weeks, we would be able to allocate all our resources to helping families find housing stability, rather than spending it on hotels. If you are a member of an existing host congregation, please consider hosting an additional week. If you are unable to host another week, please consider co-hosting with another congregation. If you have never hosted and would like to explore hosting, please contact me at emma@ihnessexnj.org to schedule training for your congregation.

Additionally,our shelter model allows us to utilize religious organizational space for hosting families. If you have a vacant manse, house or space that can be utilized to host homeless families, please contact me directly. Together, I hope we can continue to help homeless families in our communities, so their children can look forward to a brighter future. The IHN Board and I appreciate your help with this urgent matter. Thank you!
Its back! Bring your friends and family for an evening of fun with local Broadway stars!

When: Monday, May 20
Time: 7 p.m. Cocktails & Silent Auction; 8 p.m. Performance
Where: The Woodland, 60 Woodland Rd., Maplewood, NJ 07040

With performances from Les Miserables, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, Jekyll and Hyde, Showboat, Chicago, The Lion King, Memphis, The Producers, Kiss of the Spider Woman and more!
Harvard Community Partners helps IHN complete Strategic Plan

In 2018, the Harvard Business School Club of New York, through its Harvard Community Partners (HCP) program, awarded a pro-bono grant to IHN. Eight talented and experienced volunteer HBS graduates were tasked to assist IHN management and board in helping develop a new Strategic Plan. 

The group provided hundreds of hours of assistance over several months researching, interviewing and preparing a guiding document and short-term actions to assist the IHN board in this important effort. The HCP team, several that live and work in Essex County, met with the IHN Board, staff and supporters to analyze the needs of the organization. On Feb 9, 2019, they delivered a working guide to assist the IHN Board and staff to complete its strategic plan.

Among the HCP recommendations: Determine a contemporary Mission and Vision Statement, Shore up the Hosting Congregational Model, Create an Integrated Management by Objective Framework to assure continued success.

The IHN Board adopted a new Vision and Mission Statement February 27, 2019.

The VISION: A community in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future.

The Mission: To help homeless and at-risk families achieve self-sufficiency by providing shelter, social services, and housing assistance through a community-based approach
Service Spotlight
Mittens and Hot Chocolate!

For over 5 years, the Lower School children of Far Brook School in Short Hills have donated thousands of pairs of gloves, mittens, socks and hot chocolate, individually packaged with beautifully hand written notes for children in our shelter and housing programs.

As Paula Levine, Director of the lower school explains, the lower school children, many as young as 3 years old, "love the mittens project because it gives them an opportunity to share". Sharing and caring for others are core values that are consistently reinforced at the school, and its evident in the children's genuine concern for homeless children.

We look forward to our annual visits to Far Brook school to pick up the collection of mittens and gloves and meet with the lower school children so we can personally thank them for their efforts. We are incredibly grateful to the Far Brook community for their generosity, and most thankful to the children of the Lower School for truly caring about children just like them who's families have fallen on hard times.
IHN Ambassador Program
We're excited to announce that the IHN Ambassador Program officially kicked off on February 26th. IHN Ambassadors will help promote IHN in their communities, and participate in volunteer initiative as needed.

Would you like to hear more about the IHN Ambassador Program and how you and your family can participate? Contact Angie Benedict at 973-746-1400 prompt 3 or angie@ihnessexnj.org
It is with great sadness that we share the sudden passing of one of our beloved long term volunteers, Patrick Forsyth. Patrick was the Host Coordinator for the IHN Shelter Program for Grace Church in Nutley.

Patrick was an outstanding and devoted IHN volunteer and friend who never said no to any requests. Somehow he would find time for whatever the need was and contribute. He was a kind and gentle soul who will be missed by all.
With Special Thanks...
IHN families continue to benefit from the generosity and kindness of various individuals and groups throughout Essex County. These efforts/drives included the Back to School drives, Camp drives, Pajama drives, Gift Card drives, and Thanksgiving and Christmas drives to name a few. We are grateful to ALL our volunteers, donors and supporters! Below are a few of our heroes from 2018...
Dannielle Gordon (R) for dedicating her Mitzvah to IHN and raising much needed funds.
Violet O'Hara for participating in JLOSH's Littlest Volunteer Project and donating activity bags for children in our programs.
Joyce Moulthrop for hand knitted hats and scarves to help keep our families warm.
Millburn School District for a generous financial donation and complete Thanksgiving meals for 40 IHN families.
Grover Cleveland Middle School of West Caldwell for their donation of household goods to help families moving out of the shelter program settle in their new homes.
Tutors in our After School Program for their commitment and dedication to the children in the program.
Allizon Ziefert, Ginge Calhoun and the Allison Ziefer Real Estate Group for special fundraisers, pajama collections and ongoing donations to support our home for good program.
Calldwell United Methodist Church and Sheri Lacey and Caldwell Banker for Mother's Day gift bags.
St. Thomas More congregation in Fairfield for Christmas gifts for 40 IHN children.
Take the Cake for throwing fabulous birthday celebrations for IHN children who otherwise would not have an opportunity to savor their special day!
Victoria King for her tireless efforts in organizing the 2nd Annual Home for All 5k Run/Walk
The Maplewood Women's Club for their generous donations over many years to support IHN families.
Robert DuSold for putting an amazing show every year with the popular Broadway fundraiser for IHN.
IHN's very own Jacqueline Graham for using her incredible musical talents to raise funds for IHN through various musical performances.
Temple Shomrei Emunah of Montclair for their donations of household items for 9 IHN families moving from shelter to housing.