As part of our annual holiday gift program called “The Wishing Wall,” more than 200 children from more than 100 families had their Christmas wishes come true through donations of toys, warm clothes and gift cards.
This year many of the children receiving gifts were the innocent victims of domestic violence, many of whom are currently living in shelters. Almost all of the children live in single parent households, with mommies and grandmas providing love and care.
They say it takes a village and this project was no exception. The dedicated AECDC Staff and Board along with a team of volunteers from Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple and the NJ Youth Corp sorted, packed and delivered all the gifts in time for Christmas.
The New Brunswick community provided tremendous support for this effort as well. A number of children’s wishes were filled by members of the New Brunswick Police Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team, RWJ Community Health & Hospital, The City of New Brunswick, Eric B. Chandler Health Center, Suydam Street Reformed Church, and the Greater Brunswick Charter School.
Also this year, the AECDC collaborated with the New Brunswick HUD Teen Center in a very successful gift give-away with Santa.
AECDC Program Director Norka Torres has been a passionate advocate for victims of domestic violence and a long-term member of the New Brunswick Domestic Violence Awareness Coalition (NBDVAC). As a result of this commitment and all of the other work she does to help the New Brunswick community, the NBDVAC has decided that she is ideally suited to be its Chair. The AECDC congratulates Norka on this recognition and knows the NBDVAC will thrive under her leadership.
Like most nonprofits, the AECDC relies on volunteers to assist with the support and functioning of the agency. We would like to express our appreciation to our many and varied volunteers. Deborah Cherniss is our founder, past president and grant writer extraordinaire. Without her efforts, we would not have existed or be able to continue to exist. She spends numerous hours compiling data for our public and private funders.
Members of our board contribute a good deal of their time in the planning and execution of our services. When staff calls them for help, they respond within minutes of the request. The board assists with office work, and picks up donations from individuals, consignment stores and outlets. They also get the word out about our services and ways to help through creating written and electronic documents as well attending social service meetings in the community. They support the CDC through their financial donations. The board organizes and administers our holiday gift program for children with generous donations of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple members and others from the community.
Some of our clients have desired to “give back” by providing office or housekeeping assistance as well as offering donations of goods and transportation for the agency when they are able. Some of the members of the NJ Youth Corps have chosen to volunteer with us after their term of training is completed.
Other institutions have contributed to our success by their efforts. We coordinate with a number of community partners in a Community Advisory Committee meeting. The Central Jersey Maternal and Child Healthcare Consortium has delivered some of our goods to our clients when they are visiting them. The First Reformed Church, Robert Wood Johnson Community Health program, Catholic Charities and the New Brunswick Police Department Domestic Violence Response Team all have supported us through drives for food, formula, clothing and back to school supplies for needy youth.
New Brunswick High School Honor Society Students who aspire to become social workers have visited us and made phone calls to update our collateral service information while learning what we do.
To all of these above, we say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
We have just published the Annual Reports for our 15th year of providing basic needs for people who would otherwise go without food, clothing, health insurance, medical equipment, and diapers and other baby goods. In prior years, we have published a single report describing all of our activities. Because our programs serve distinctly different populations, we are publishing two separate reports this year: one describing our Baby Essentials for Safety and Trust (BEST) program, which serves 70% of our clients, and one describing our other three programs (IOHIO, ASK and HELP), which we collectively call Connections to Care and which serve 30% of our clients.