South Jersey Dream Center Fast Facts
The South Jersey Dream Center (SJDC) reaches out to low income and struggling families with food, clothing, household and baby items, and training. There are over 220,000* people in South Jersey living below the poverty level and caught in a cycle of despair. We believe that people can reach their full potential and find hope and meaning for their lives when they receive God's unconditional love and grace along with assistance with daily needs.
We supply hope for a brighter tomorrow
We develop people to reach their full potential
The SJDC was founded in November 2010 by Rev. Joseph Fortunato, as a monthly outreach by the Faith Fellowship Ministries Church in Sewell, NJ. In 2013, the SJDC moved to a donated space at the VFW Hall in Runnemede, NJ and continued their monthly distribution. The SJDC became incorporated as a separate 501c3 non-profit organization in 2014. By January 2015, the SJDC quickly outgrew that space and moved their monthly distribution to another donated space, the National Park Fire Hall, which was four times the size. In December 2016, the SJDC once again outgrew the space and is now seeking a larger, more permanent facility.
Addressing Community Needs
Food: It is shocking that anyone in America goes hungry, yet there are over 100,000** people in the four surrounding counties who do not get the meals they need to thrive, and an average of 13.10%* of the population in these counties are below the poverty level.
Clothing and Household Items: Many people in our local neighborhoods find themselves in crisis or transition, and can't afford coats, shoes and clothing for their families, or basic household necessities.
Baby Items: When resources are limited, many babies do not get the appropriate clothing, diapers, and supplies to thrive during their crucial first years of life. We want to do all that we can to help parents focus their attention on caring for their little ones without the stress of not knowing how they will provide certain essentials for them.
Training: Before a person can add value to the lives of those around them, or succeed on the job, or overcome destructive habits, they need to know that they are valued, accepted and loved unconditionally by God. This is a springboard for recognizing and developing their talents and skills, to seeking an education/training toward a meaningful career, and to making a positive impact on society.
We supplied over 230,000 pounds of food and clothing in 2016 to 150-200 families a month, donated by our Food and Clothing Partners, individuals, and Food, Clothing and Diaper Drives. Our Food and Clothing Partners include the Food Bank of South Jersey, ShopRite, BJ’s, Target, Panera Bread, Forman Mills, New Jersey Farmer’s Against Hunger, Philabundance, Dollar Tree, and the Gloucester County Certified Gardeners. With a permanent site we expect our distributions to increase substantially.
We provided training through voluntary 45-minute workshops on relevant and practical topics, presented by local professionals who donated their time and expertise. Our topics included job readiness, financial literacy, health, fitness, nutrition, overcoming addictions, dealing with grief and loss, conflict resolution, helping your child succeed in school, and more. With a permanent site we can continue to offer training workshops but on a weekly rather than just on a monthly basis.
Each month we also provided a voluntary 15-minute encouraging message from the Bible filled with God’s unconditional love, grace and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Over 300 people committed their lives to Christ.
Most importantly, we saw families and health restored, people getting jobs, single moms, veterans, and seniors able to spend their limited funds on expenses other than food.
Our Need to Expand
An increase in capacity would allow us to better serve the community, while also helping to ensure the sustainability of the South Jersey Dream Center mission. The proposed site is a key element in helping to reach our short term and long term objectives because it provides a bigger and more economical space, along with a more desirable location.
By obtaining a permanent facility, we have the potential to serve upwards of 30,000 people a month, and build trust as a community minded neighbor. By providing spiritual and life-skills training, we add value to the community, we serve as a portal to a better local and regional economy, and we help people build a path toward self-sufficiency. With each passing year, we send the message that we are “not going anywhere”, and people find comfort in knowing that there is a place to go to find help in a time of crisis, transition or temporary need. We will continue to foster good will, establish credibility, and develop long term relationships and partnerships with local and regional leaders, businesses and organizations.
Financial Donations: In 2016, Columbia Bank donated $25,554 for a cargo van. Wells Fargo, Kohl’s Cares, The Wawa Foundation, The GAP Foundation, United Way, Rehab Connection, and Patient First are also amongst our 28 financial partners. With a permanent location, we expect to be able to attract substantially more in the way of donations.
Volunteers and Staffing: Along with two paid employees, over 150 individual volunteers, as well as group volunteers from Columbia Bank, FedEx, Johnson and Matthey, Albert’s Organics, local high schools, Boy Scouts, and KLove Radio have partnered with us. We have shared our mission with various government officials, and are active members of the Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce. With a permanent site we expect to be able to better maintain the stability of the staffing situation.
**Feeding America - feedingamerica.org - Map The Meal Gap