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.
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.
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.
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.
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.