More than 400 community members opened their hearts and wallets during the 2016 holiday season, donating $231,670 to the Matching Grants Program sponsored by Partners for Health Foundation. With the Foundation’s $1 to $1 match, grants totaling $463,340 were made to seven local soup kitchens, food pantries and agencies that provide services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.
Matching grants were distributed in Montclair to the Human Needs Food Pantry, Toni’s Kitchen, Salvation Army, HOMECorp, Interfaith Hospitality Network, and Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless (MESH). St. Peter’s Haven in Clifton also received a grant.
Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health, said, “Since 2014, this Matching Grants Program has generated donations of $522,270 resulting in grants totaling more than $1 million. Contributions have grown each year and the amazing response from the community continues to be a WOW for everyone involved.”
Comments from grantees tell the story of how this program is making a difference:
“In 2015, Toni’s Kitchen provided 52,000 meals in our community. In 2016, we provided almost 70,000. We cannot meet this increasing need without these funds. Our soup kitchen had fresh produce at every one of our meals. This builds habits of health, especially for children. Over time, behaviors are changed and habits are developed. The benefits will last a lifetime,” said Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach at Toni’s Kitchen.
According to Mike Bruno, Executive Director of the Human Needs Food Pantry, “We add 20-25 new households per month on average and have roughly 1,400 client households who rely on us for one food program or another. We serve more than a dozen local communities on a weekly basis and numerous cities and towns on a monthly basis. We make 200 deliveries per week to homebound elderly and handicapped clients. Without the support of Partners for Health, we simply would not be able to do all of the things we do for our clients.”
“This funding will sponsor the Home for the Holidays program, which provides housing and meals for up to 120 Bloomfield College students experiencing food insecurity during winter and summer recess,” said Gwen Parker Ames, Ed.D., Executive Director of MESH. “The grant will also support Career Conversations and healthy eating workshops facilitated by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Food and Nutrition SNAP program.”
Emma Justice, Executive Director, Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) of Essex County, commented, “Every year IHN provides shelter, food, case management, and/or rapid rehousing assistance to over 150 families, totaling over 370 individuals, 65% of which are children. While government and some foundations are reducing their funding to the economically challenged, Partners for Health has stepped in and bridged some of the gaps. This support means our families will have child care while seeking employment, food and shelter when we don’t have a host congregation, and links to health programs so they can thrive and not just survive.”
“As the newly appointed Executive Director of HOMECorp, I cannot think of a better tribute, recognition and acknowledgement of the work we have done and the families we serve,” noted Walter Blenman. “To date, we have provided financial counseling to more than 8,400 families. This year we look to build upon that number in addition to providing affordable homes to rent or purchase.”
Michele Kroeze, Business Manager of the Salvation Army, noted, “This funding will once again help to extend hours of our drop in center and to open our building on the Federal holidays in January and February, to provide shelter from the cold when alternatives are limited. This support also helps us to meet the growing demand at our feeding program, The Table. In 2015 during the months of July through December, we served 7,430 meals. During the same period in 2016, we served 11,098 meals. The need for our services is real.”
“The St. Peter’s Haven Healthy Food Pantry serves about 850 people each month and 10-15 people in our Transitional Shelter for Homeless Families. This grant will support outreach efforts to children and seniors who qualify for services,” added Fr. Peter De Franco, Executive Director.
Partners for Health Foundation’s vision is to make its 15 communities healthier, better places to live. The Foundation harnesses the efforts of engaged partners to work collaboratively toward shared goals. Funds target the health of all members of the community, particularly our most vulnerable neighbors.