Helping Children

Greater Newark Holiday FundAfter Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, Greater Newark Holiday Fund is especially critical with its Children’s Aid.

For many who were struggling in life before Sandy, the road to recovery has been that much harder.

“If you were vulnerable before the storm, you were even more vulnerable after,” Reuben Rotman, executive director of the Jewish Family Services of MetroWest, told The Star-Ledger’s Janelle Griffith. Many of those helped by fund-supported agencies are battling raging storms within, said Griffith reported.

Marcel, a preschooler living with his grandparents, has nightmares after witnessing his mother’s death. At a Youth Consultation Service preschool, he receives counseling for behavior and emotional issues, and his grandparents attend family therapy to better understand him and, maybe, one day earn his trust.

Jonathan has developmental disabilities related to lead exposure. Through the Children’s Aid and Family Services, he has found a home with a loving family that gives him the structure he needs to overcome his anger and anxieties. Tutoring has helped him make the honor roll in school.

These are just a couple of the success stories you’ll be reading in the weeks to come. More than ever, contributing to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund is a chance to save lives.

Greater Newark Holiday Fund Helps Teen Learns It’s Cool To Be Confident

Naomi is a teenager who felt isolated and alone. Her confidence was at an all-time low.

She had major trust issues and refused to confide in anyone about her problems. Naomi was also severely depressed.

She tried unhealthy ways to resolve her issues, including self-mutilation and self-medication with marijuana.

Eventually, Naomi went to the Family Connections agency’s Clean and Cool program. There, she was helped to overcome her feelings of isolation and drug use.

Clean and Cool is an outpatient treatment program designed to help teenagers stop drinking alcohol, using drugs and engaging in other high-risk behaviors.

The program is specifically designed to help teens like Naomi. Services offered include counseling, referrals, life skills training and health education.

Naomi participated in both group and individual counseling sessions. With the help of her counselors, she learned new communication tools to improve her interactions with others, especially in situations she would generally find difficult.

Naomi told her counselors that when she felt angry or depressed at school, she now chooses to walk away or visit the Clean and Cool program.

Naomi has graduated from the program, but still attends therapy sessions through the Family Connections agency to maintain and track her progress.

From Nightmares to Trust, Disability to Honor Roll

Many of those helped by Greater Newark Holiday Fund supported agencies are battling raging storms within. Marcel, a preschooler living with his grandparents, has nightmares after witnessing his mother’s death. At a Youth Consultation Service preschool, he receives counseling for behavior and emotional issues, and his grandparents attend family therapy to better understand him and, maybe, one day earn his trust. Jonathan has developmental disabilities related to lead exposure. Through the Children’s Aid and Family Services, he has found a home with a loving family that gives him the structure he needs to overcome his anger and anxieties. Tutoring has helped him make the honor roll in school.

Kids Helped Twice!

The first Star-Ledger article on Mary Reed told how she had cared for 13 foster children, many of them siblings, and all under the age of 12, in just one year. It recounted the rapport she developed with her displaced, often abused charges, and how she aimed to improve the lives of as many scarred children as she could. Her work was supported by Children’s Aid and Family Services, a Greater Newark Holiday Fund partner agency. (The full story was available by clicking here at the time this piece was posted.)

But it didn’t stop there. A generous donor decided to make Christmas a little more special for Mary’s kids, and with the aid of the mayor of Mary’s town and Ted Zangari, the Fund’s Honorary Chair, set up a celebration they won’t soon forget. He even arranged for an additional donation to the Fund. Click here for that story when this was written.

Children’s Aid a Blessing for Young Girl

Tanya was removed from her parent’s care as a young child. Now eight years old, she came to Children’s Aid and Family Services, which receives support from the Greater Newark Holiday Fund. Having bounced around in multiple foster homes she was behind in her education.

Tanya’s difficulties in reading, writing and spelling took a toll on her confidence and gave her anxiety toward school.

For the past year, Children’s Aid and Family Services has provided her a tutor to work with consistently. The tutor has witnessed marked improvements in Tanya’s vocabulary and reading levels. She has also become a fan of leisurely reading, often choosing the hobby over watching television.

Tanya has regained her confidence in school, often sharing her knowledge with her classmates and has grown to love books on animals. Her grades have also improved and she now looks forward to going to school and learning.

Fund Helps Boy Heal From Emotional Wounds

Jamal’s drug- and alcohol-addicted parents abandoned him on a New Jersey street corner when he was 2 years old. He was placed with a foster family where he again fell victim to neglect, this time developing a severe case of ringworm that caused permanent damage to his scalp. At just 8 years old, Jamal now has bald spots where hair will not grow back.

Though Jamal was moved to a new foster home where he received proper care, it did not erase the emotional damage of prior years. He began to suffer from serious speech delays and struggled to express himself. Jamal’s behavior was spiraling downward and he had to be removed from two preschools.

After an outburst that landed him in the hospital, Jamal went to live at the YCS Davis House where he received care and therapy and attended a YCS school. Jamal’s behavior and speech improved dramatically with the help of the YCS staff.

Mentoring Brightens Life for Depressed Teen

Heather, 12, lives with her mother in Hudson County. She came to America from Ecuador when she was 7, but has not fully adjusted to her new country. Heather’s mother called Catholic Charities in Jersey City because she noticed her daughter seemed depressed and had written suicidal notes.

Through therapy provided by the agency, Heather learned constructive coping skills and the family learned better ways to communicate with each other. Heather received a mentor who provided help with homework and in the development of her social skills. The social worker also helped Heather join extracurricular activities such as the newspaper club, which helped improve her writing and allowed her to make friends.

By the end of her time with Catholic Charities, Heather moved to a long-term mentoring program to further develop her social skills. She was also getting along better with her mother, and the signs of depression had faded.