HOPE Center assistance programs.

In an effort to help families and individuals facing a one time crisis, HOPE Center can provide support to working poor residents of Ocean County. The charity has limited resources, but staff and volunteers try to prevent hunger or homelessness in the community as well as offer referrals and guidance. A number of churches and even the county social service department partner with the non-profit.

Numerous residents, including those in Ocean County, struggle financially, due mainly to a one time crisis or maybe the weak job market. This is also reflected by the fact that many local families live on fixed incomes or work at minimum wage jobs. Providing support, referrals, and a caring environment and addressing the emergency needs of this population are priorities for HOPE Center.

The financial aid depends on money raised from the community and key faith based partners. Some of the churches include St. Andrew United Methodist, Christ Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Pinelands Reformed, First Assembly of God and many others. Volunteers also work with the HOPE Center.

A number of resources and financial aid is targeted to residents facing short-term, emergency challenges. They will not help people in chronic poverty, but instead the focus is on those who need assistance in the short-term to tide them over until their long-term solutions which are required have time to work. People in such situations are encouraged to turn to HOPE Center to learn whether they may be eligible for some level of financial assistance for that period of time when they need to get back on their feet financially.

As donations and grants levels allow, these programs may include assistance with avoiding utility disconnection. Or they may be financial help for maintaining home ownership or paying the rent on an apartment, or accessing adequate amounts of food or gently used clothing.

A local Food Pantry and soup kitchen in Ocean County New Jersey can assist the homeless and financially disadvantaged. The location furnishes free canned items and packages of groceries to those who are experiencing crisis situations. They also provide assistance to area senior citizens, including home-delivered meals in partnership with volunteers and local charities.

The charity operates a number of housing programs that offer initial assessment. Based on the result, if funding allows it, there may be emergency rent assistance, shelter, loans for certain costs, and transitional housing.




Referrals to other support services are available, and these may include help with obtaining food, case management, assistance with establishing goals, referrals for educational or vocational opportunities, budgeting workshops, job placement, and skills training. The case managers, and many generous volunteers, also work with clients to locate decent, affordable, permanent housing within HOPE Center.

All across Ocean County, there are emergency shelters and transitional units. They try to provide an opportunity for residents to make needed changes that lead to an increase in income, better credit, and obtaining long-term housing. As part of the services and transitional housing programs, clients must agree to participate in weekly meetings with a social worker, to ensure that progress toward the achievement of goals is on track.

There is also care for senior citizens in the region, and this may include appropriate and low income housing, hot meals, and recreation activities at local senior centers. Affordable breakfasts and lunches are available at selected locations. Whichever programs and services they use, the elderly always receive the respect and services they need and deserve from the staff at HOPE Center.

Christmas assistance is sometimes arranged each holiday season to ensure that needy families have an opportunity to enjoy the season. The community is encouraged to participate by donating new toys, clothing, gifts, and holiday cheer. As with most of the offering from HOPE Center they also depend on volunteers, companies, churches and other benefactors from the community to make this program special for those in need.

While resources are limited, the charity is an option. The main office is at 253 Chestnut St, Toms River New Jersey, or call (732) 341 - 4447.



By Jon McNamara

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