Awesome things happening at the Dream Center! It all starts with “Change: From the Inside Out”, our lead story and an inspiring message of how to make difficult but lasting steps forward. Also, an exciting new change with Robins’ Nest and our ongoing partnership to help struggling families. Lastly, we have some introductions to some of our retired volunteers and group volunteers that make what we do possible…and fun!
In this feature, we ask ourselves a thought provoking question, “Are We a Charity” according to the Biblical standards of old and new. Children from local schools receive a big shout out for their part in warming hearts, hands, and tummies with their support of the Dream Center. And more…
The fight against hunger is taken to the courts at the Seventh Annual Dodge Hunger Dodgeball Tournament. We hope that events like this encourage citizens to continue to help their food-insecure neighbors, said Joe Njoroge, former interim CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey. Also featured in this issue are holiday food drives that are making an impact on local families.
Gloucester County Senior Nutrition Program Site Manager, Norlyn Garlic tells the Dream Center, "Some of our guests go with little food or no food at times. When they arrive, sometimes they haven't eaten since the day before or longer", at which time, she likes to send home a little extra for those who are really struggling. Also featured in this Summer Newsletter is the story of a man who finds himself starting over after working a good paying job for many years, how one volunteer has been impacted by the Dream Center, and a snapshot of what our Dodge Hunger Dodgeball Tournament is all about.
"We think the Dream Center is the best Food Program around but...", is what one guest shared with us at our first ever Focus Group meeting held earlier this month. Read all about the wonderful feedback we received and steps to take to move the SJDC forward. Also in this issue, updates regarding volunteer "RE-cruitment", and our search for a new location.
In our Winter Newsletter we take a look back at 2017's biggest moments, the activities and innovations that shaped an extraordinary foundation for us, and what we're looking forward to in 2018. Pastor Joe also shares a tremendously encouraging brief video message called Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow, and offers a digital download to a free booklet. Lastly, don't miss our feature story about the lives that are changed through a simple thing like receiving unexpected food for their families.
In This Issue: Pastor Joe and Natalie share a video update of the latest happenings with the search for a new facility for the SJDC. Two feature articles also include first, a moving story from one of our guests that found themselves in the midst of domestic violence, and second, what the SJDC did to help students who were missing meals at nearby Rowan University.
Remember the 1995 movie While You Were Sleeping? Well, let us tell you about our own blockbuster hit called While We are Seeking! Meet the cast...
As we continue to diligently seek a larger facility for the South Jersey Dream Center, we have actually increased our reach in the local community! That's right, when one door closed, multiple doors opened. Meet Jeff! Every Tuesday morning we continue to pick up donations at the Mantua Target. Close to 1,000 pounds of meat, dairy, produce, paper goods and non-perishable items are loaded into the van each week and off we go.
There may be seasons in our lives where it seems as if our challenges are coming at us simultaneously from every direction, and we are completely inundated by problem after problem. Perhaps the strain of a financial challenge led to cracks in your marriage. Maybe the development of a health condition resulted in reduced hours at work, or losing your job completely. Or you've lost a loved one, or a close relationship has been severed. Under the accumulated weight of it all coming against you at once, you feel as if your entire life is spiraling out of control and falling apart. Day by day, your circumstances and options appear to be fast deteriorating despite your best efforts to salvage things.
Every week we continue to receive calls, texts and emails asking when we plan to re-open. We constantly hear how there are so few options that compare to the assistance that people received through the Dream Center. Thank you to everyone who has sent information and recommendations for properties that might be a good fit for us. We are still looking! In the meantime, yes, we agree, there is a great need in south Jersey for the South Jersey Dream Center...
Every once in a while we get asked how we know if people who visit the Dream Center are really in need. They're curious as to how a person qualifies to receive our assistance, and if we screen people, or if just anybody can walk in and take what they need and go. For every person that asks, most likely there are others who are wondering the same thing but don't ask. These are great questions.
"Hey 2016! Before you go, we want to take a few minutes to say...thank you!" Thank you for bringing us increase on every level. From the first day until now, we connected with thousands of children, adults, seniors, veterans, professionals, students and everyday people in our local community. We provided over 200,000 pounds of food, clothing, personal hygiene items, diapers and pet items. We doubled our food partners and volunteers. We tripled our food drives, grants and sponsorships, and digital media presence.
The South Jersey Dream Center burst into the Thanksgiving Season with the Fifth Annual Dodge Hunger Dodgeball Tournament at the RiverWinds Community Center the first Saturday in November. Players from NJ and PA formed teams of six or more to help raise funds in support of the South Jersey Dream Center Monthly Food & Clothing Distribution on the third Tuesday of each month at the National Park Fire Hall.
Kittens? Well, balloon kittens, to be exact. Where? At our Fourth Annual Family & Friends Day, what a blast! Each year, we like to host this special occasion during our August Food and Clothing Distribution. Why? To honor and show our appreciation for the precious people we serve...many of whom have become like family, and ALL our friends. Our thinking...this calls for a celebration!
"Mrs. Fortunato?"..."Yes"..."This is Columbia Bank calling to let you know that the South Jersey Dream Center's grant request for $25,554 to purchase a cargo van has been approved"...[heart pounding, tears welling, voice quivering] "Praise God!!! Thank you, thank you, oh my, thank you!! We can't thank you enough!"...[tears flowing, speechless]...
The price tag on the meat we ate tonight that we received from the Food Pantry was more than I make on my job in one day, thank you! I feel so appreciated when I volunteer at the Food Pantry. When I get there, I can't wait to get this party started! - J.J., Mantua. Whoa, what kind of food distribution program gives away such great quality meat? A food distribution program with GREAT PARTNERS! We count it a privilege to serve the people in our community, but without our food partners, we would have nothing to serve. Let us introduce them to you...
It's 11 am, over 175 clients and volunteers are packed into the National Park Fire Hall...and you can hear a pin drop. All eyes, some tear-filled, are on Dr. Rose Dean as she shares the reality of how grief affects our lives, at one time or another, through loss. Loss of a loved one, a job, a home, a marriage. Grief? What does that have to do with food? A whole lot...
This time last year, we were getting ready to make a small move that would turn out to be a big deal! Providing food assistance for families in Runnemede was such a success, that by the close of 2014, after only ten months, we had already outgrown the local VFW. It was time to either cut back on the number of people we served or increase our reach in a larger facility.
Bob Cleveland, Branch Manager of Columbia Bank in West Deptford, took time out of his busy schedule this month to volunteer at the South Jersey Dream Center Food Pantry at the National Park Fire Hall in National Park. As past president of the Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, Bob Cleveland is no stranger to the local area, and a strong supporter of businesses taking every opportunity to give back to the surrounding community.
Over 40 students from Africa, Europe and South America attending the Faith International Training School (FITS) came out to lend a helping hand at the South Jersey Dream Center Food Pantry last month. FITS Pastor, Marty Happle, lead the caravan from their campus in Sayreville, NJ for this much anticipated visit. Though hunger is prevalent in every corner of the world, the method of distributing food varies from continent to continent. Therefore, it was our privilege to share with the FITS students and staff how the South Jersey Dream Center meets the needs of local families.
At the beginning of the year we received a call from a local organization called Heart of Gloucester County, that had an abundant supply of coats to donate and wanted to know if we were interested. Yes! We scooped them up and offered them to our Food Distribution guests at our February distribution. Coats of all sizes for adults and children...they loved them...this was the jump-start we were waiting for!