During the past year at Project Self-Sufficiency, 1,282 families participated in case management services, 4,132 home visits were conducted with 331 families, and 438 job placements for individuals were achieved.
Indeed, we are delighted to be embarking on our 30th year of assisting families with achieving family stability and economic self-sufficiency. We are proud of the accomplishments of so many of our participants, and we are excited to have launched several new programs and welcomed fresh faces to our growing list of volunteers.
We recently expanded our outreach with the addition of Sussex Warren Project Connect, a new Central Intake program offered through the New Jersey Department of Health, which facilitates communication and follow-up for those who are seeking maternal and child health services while providing access to home visitation and other programs. Our goal is to bring together pediatricians, caregivers, educators, counselors, social service agencies and others to enhance and coordinate local services. The sentiments listed above were expressed by Sussex and Warren County residents who received assistance from Sussex Warren Project Family Connect.
Project Sussex Kids was also initiated in the past year to support Sussex County families who are parenting young children. We invite you to attend one of our quarterly General Council meetings or register to participate in one of the many sub-committees targeted to parents.
Education continues to be one of the top priorities for our participants and their children. We are thrilled to continue the Campus 2 Campus program in conjunction with Sussex County Community College in support of adult students as they pursue an advanced degree. In addition, the Project Launch Newton after school enrichment program hosted by Project Self-Sufficiency within the Newton School District is entering its third successful year. This STEM-based program is offered free of charge to students in grades 4 – 8 at the Merriam Avenue School and the Halsted Middle School, and includes homework help, healthy snacks, field trips, character-building curriculum, guest speakers and a host of activities designed to nurture intellectual curiosity and healthy students.
Food insecurity continues to be an issued faced by many in our area. We are indebted to the Sussex County Board of Social Services for providing nutritious food to the students in the Project Launch Newton program, as well as to Project Self-Sufficiency's participants, from summer food bags to after school snacks to weekend backpacks brimming with healthy food.
Our seven community gardens are another source of nutrition for participating families. Each May, over 100 students and faculty from Blair Academy spruce up our grounds, plant our vegetable gardens and pot over 100 tomato plants for our participants as part of the school's annual Day of Service. We are also extremely fortunate to host a steady stream of volunteer gardeners spearheaded by the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Sussex County throughout the spring and summer. These tireless members of our Sowing Circle till each bed and reap thousands of pounds of fresh produce for distribution to our participants.
Our Board of Directors has been recently been strengthened through the addition of Brian Lytwynec and retired New Jersey Superior Court judge The Honorable Lorraine Parker. Our Leadership Council has also added several new members this year, including Kristie and Chris Adams, Kimberley Burnett, Cassia De Frank, Basil O'Connor, Don Williams, Melissa and Brian Fagerstein, Anthony Fasano, Christopher Kuhn, Shannon Nothstine and Melissa Sacchiero. We thank Julie Killen for hosting the July Leadership Council event in her gracious home, and we continue to be grateful for the guidance provided by the Council, as well as the Board, as we navigate the upcoming year.
With the assistance of the Leadership Council and the Board of Directors, Project Self-Sufficiency's fundraising efforts brought in a groundswell of community support during the past year. Direct mail efforts, along with record-breaking attendance at the 20th anniversary celebration of A Taste of Talent, helped us to bring in more than $1.3 million.
We are thrilled to announce that Project Self-Sufficiency is the recipient of the New Jersey Youth Corps grant from the Department of Labor & Workforce Development. This program will enable Project Self-Sufficiency to provide a full-time, year-round program to young adults, ages 16 – 25, who want to earn a high school equivalency diploma and transition to employment, the military, college or additional training.
We are also in the process of finalizing plans for our very own Project Café, an eatery which will be housed in our Community Education Center. Work is underway to renovate the kitchen to bring it up to commercial standards. We are exceptionally grateful to Kristi Prigmore for providing a challenge grant through the Prigmore Family Foundation, and to those who stepped up to provide additional funding.
The Louise M. Murphy Center for Volunteerism continues to thrive, providing Project Self-Sufficiency with a steady stream of dedicated community members who have banded together with the common goal of making a difference in the lives of our participants.
During the autumn and early winter, we will gear up for the annual Season of Hope toy drive, an initiative which aims to gather 20,000 items for children of all ages for distribution at the annual toy shop in December. However, it should be noted that every season at Project Self-Sufficiency is filled with hope. Your contributions, whether through volunteerism, financial support or both, help us to instill hope in the lives of our participants. We could not have accomplished our goals without you.
If your family is struggling, know you are welcome here. Whether you seek education, job training, parenting skills guidance, legal assistance, computer training or just a supportive atmosphere to think things through and seek advice, Project Self-Sufficiency offers a variety of programs at our beautiful campus. Check them out on this website, then get in touch to see how we can help you to begin your journey to self-sufficiency!
Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director