Programs

NEIGHBORCORPS RE-ENTRY SERVICES provides free, supportive services that help individuals to transition from jail back into society and avoid recidivism.

NeighborCorps pairs program participants from Middlesex County Jail with trained volunteer Navigator groups to create and carry out customized 30-day action plans that lead to successful re-entry into the community. Plans include steps towards finding gainful employment and housing; pursuing personal development through counseling and other supportive and treatment services; and regaining the trust of others through communication and accountability.

Read an article about this program at Bread for the World.

This program is supported by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Why Re-Entry?

According to 2013 Drug Policy Alliance research, approximately 15,000 people are incarcerated at any given time in the New Jersey County Jail System; nearly half are under the age of 30. Low-income and minority communities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system – 71% are Black or Hispanic.

Over 10,000 people were released from New Jersey county jails in 2013. There is an urgent need for structured assistance to help the formerly incarcerated reintegrate into society and avoid being re-incarcerated. Successful re-entry is critical for the individuals released, for the well-being of their families, and for community health and safety. Successful re-entry programs are a cost-effective alternative to additional jail time, and promote a more positive outcome for individuals, families and communities.

Volunteer

NeighborCorps is seeking individuals or groups to be trained as volunteer Navigators who will mentor participants. Contact Program Director, Austin Morreale, for details at 732-675-1452 or NeighborCorps@gmail.com, or fill out this form.

Visit NeighborCorpsReEntry.org for more information.

Donate

Donate to NeighborCorps Re-Entry Services via PayPal. Please include NeighborCorps in the “Instruction To” tab on the upper left corner when confirming your donation.

Or you can make a check donation payable to Churches Improving Communities. Please write NeighborCorps in the memo line.

Churches Improving Communities
19 South 2nd Avenue
Highland Park, NJ 08904

CALTR – Faith in Action (CHURCHES ACCOMPLISHING LONG TERM RECOVERY)

Since 2012, CALTR has rehabilitated over 200 homes along the New Jersey shore that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean Counties, utilizing donated supplies and group volunteers from around the country, as well as local unemployed volunteers who improve their job prospects and earning potential.

After five years at the shore – repairing homes and providing meaningful volunteer experiences to thousands of individuals from New Jersey and across the U.S. and Canada – CALTR has transitioned its structure and capabilities from hurricane relief work to supporting affordable housing for those who are homeless and for people with special needs.

CALTR (Churches Accomplishing Long-Term Recovery) has become CALTR-Faith in Action, a program that continues to host week-long volunteer groups with an emphasis on service learning and putting faith into action, while working on rehabilitating houses in collaboration with the Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) and Interfaith-RISE. Affordable housing in NJ is challenging for many and  CALTR partners with AHC to continuing helping to provide the vulnerable in our communities, including refugees, with safe, warm, and functional homes. In addition to service projects around affordable housing, CALTR-Faith in Action participants also engage in volunteer activities that allow them to work alongside community members who are dedicated to addressing salient issues in our communities such as immigration and asylum, food security, poverty, and domestic violence.

What Homeowners Are Saying

A homeowner, Bob from Union Beach, who was helped through CALTR says, “We lost everything is Superstorm Sandy. My wife and I were in our house when it fell into the water and we wound up in the water for about two hours… We found out we were underinsured, didn’t have the right kind of insurance… so [we ended up] not getting any money from insurance. We were blessed to receive the REM grant that covered the shell of the house in the rebuilding…[but] left us with a very big shortfall. Had it not been for many volunteer groups… not only from NJ but from all over the country… [that have] come in and help us with materials and money for materials and most importantly the labor – our sheetrock, our floors, our painting was all done with volunteers – we would not be home if it wasn’t for the volunteers and the volunteer groups. I’m just blown away. My wife and I everyday are thankful for people who were able to come and help us. There are so many others in the Bay Shore area who are in the same boat as we are and are able to get back in their homes… for the same reasons.”

What Volunteers Are Saying

A volunteer with one of our week-long work groups had this to say about their experience: “Wonderful Program – very well organized! Experience was eye-opening with what they have accomplished and are striving to do. Good opportunity to work with other disaster response groups, such as the Brethren.”

Volunteer With CALTR

Contact 732.249.7349 or RCHPoffice@juno.com to schedule yourself or your group for an unforgettable experience rehabilitating properties and rebuilding lives at the Jersey shore.

CALTR is in particular need of skilled and experienced trades-people including electricians, plumbers, carpenters and contractors. Unskilled volunteers are always welcome – we will match your skill level with an appropriate project. Youth over the age of 14 may participate with supervision.

Whatever your gifts, CIC can use your talents! Current volunteer needs include:

  • Someone with donor database experience
  • Individuals who can provide occasional rides on weekdays to program participants for job interviews, social services appointments, etc.
  • People with marketing experience to help promote events
  • People with skills in fiance
  • Designers to assist with logos and websites
  • Photographers & Videographers
  • Mentors to assist NeighborCorps participants with their re-entry journey
  • Licensed mental health professionals who want to assist with community mental health initiatives
  • Skilled and unskilled workers to help rebuild hurricane-affected homes along the shore
  • Join the Board of Trustees or a program steering committee!
Donate

Donate to CALTR via PayPal. Please include CALTR in the “Instruction To” tab on the upper left corner when confirming your donation.

Or you can make a check donation payable to Churches Improving Communities. Please write CALTR in the memo line.

 Churches Improving Communities

19 South 2nd Avenue
Highland Park, NJ 08904
Donations to CALTR  are used for: Building materials; Spackle; Insulation; Sheet rock; Paint; Plywood; 2X4 lumber; Tiles; Roofing material; Nails; Screws; Tape; and Staffing.
Community Partners

• Middlesex County LTR
• Gateway Corporation
• The Reformed Church of America’s Compassionate Action and Relief Effort Network (CARE Network)
• World Renew
• Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corporation
• Work First New Jersey
• Union Beach municipal government

History

CALTR began as the Hurricane Sandy Relief Project of the Reformed Church of Highland Park (RCHP) – a member church of Churches Improving Communities (CIC). In the throes of Hurricane Sandy in October and November of 2012, RCHP offered immediate disaster relief and coordinated groups of volunteers to travel to the New Jersey shore to clear debris and rehabilitate damaged homes.

RCHP became a major drop-off point in Middlesex County to donate goods or money to storm victims, and rapidly organized Saturday volunteer work trips to storm-devastated areas. CIC member Community Church of Keyport distributed aid collected at RCHP daily to families who lost their homes.

With the Red Cross, FEMA, and AmeriCorps, RCHP assisted storm victims with emergency disaster relief. RCHP connected with the Union Beach Police Department to participate in later stages of recovery. The Church of Christ’s disaster response team, Gateway, together with the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s organization World Renew, provided valuable program mentoring.

Today, RCHP collaborates with member churches and community partners under the structure of CIC to provide long term recovery services to the New Jersey coast through CALTR.

Videos


Church-Based Mental Health Services (CBMHS)

CBMHS provides low-cost, professional mental health services in central New Jersey at churches in Middlesex, Somerset, and Monmouth Counties. CBMHS allows those who would delay or go without important treatment due to lack of funds or misinformation about available resources to receive professional, compassionate care and education in a setting where they feel comfortable asking for help.

This service is not appropriate for anyone in crisis, but is designed to assess strengths and needs, identify appropriate referrals, and when appropriate provide short-term individual psychotherapy.

What Is a Crisis?

Indicators of a crisis may include threats or attempts to harm self or others, poor coping such as active substance use or cutting behaviors, change in ability to manage activities of daily living, violent or erratic behavior, experiencing delusions or hallucinations. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

How Can I Get Help?

If you or someone you know is in need of low cost mental health services, call 732-867-8647 and ask for a telephone screening. A licensed professional counselor will be available by phone 10am-5pm, Monday through Friday for screening. All calls will be returned within 24 hours during normal business hours.

No one is turned away for lack of funds.

Facts About Mental Illness

• 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness.
• More people are lost to suicide than homicide every year.
• People with mental health issues are NOT more likely to be violent than anyone else.
• Loss and trauma, physical illness, genes, brain chemistry, and family history can all contribute to the development of mental health problems.
• Poor mental health is not a sign of personal weakness; but getting help is a sign of strength.

Adapted from: http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basic/myths-facts/.AccessedFeb2016

Donate

Donate to Church-Based Mental Health Services via PayPal. Please include CBMHS in the “Instruction To” tab on the upper left corner when confirming your donation.

Or you can make a check donation payable to Churches Improving Communities. Please write CBMHS in the memo line.

Churches Improving Communities
19 South 2nd Avenue
Highland Park, NJ 08904

Volunteer
Are you a mental health professional who is looking for a way to give back to the community? Contact us for information on how you can join the CBMHS roster of professionals.

Click here for CBMHS volunteer postcard

Deportation and Immigration Response Equipo (DIRE) Support Services

DIRE Support Services provides supportive volunteer community and connection to wrap-around supportive services for immigrants and their families who are affected by family separation due to increased ICE activity. Detention and deportation throws otherwise stable families with a mix of U.S. citizens and undocumented individuals into precarious legal, economic, health, and mental health situations. Arrest, detention, and deportation have devastating effects on children in particular.

DIRE Support Services provides the following:

  • The DIRE Support Services hotline, 1-888-DIRE-SOS, responds to immigration crisis as they unfold in the community.
  • Detention Center Visitation at Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, NJ, focusing particularly on individuals from New Jersey who have been detained because of increased ICE activity.
  • Courthouse Monitoring at a municipal courthouse and county courthouse in Middlesex County;
  • DIRE information distribution to urban communities including Know your Rights fliers and What to do if ICE is at Your Door information with DIRE’s toll-free number. 

 

With generous support from:

New Jersey Congregational Center for Cancer Care (NJ CCCC)

The New Jersey Congregational Center for Cancer Care is a new program created to honor the legacy of beloved community member, Franco Juricic. Franco was a long time Merck employee who died suddenly of pancreatic cancer this year. Franco attended New Brunswick Theological seminary during his final 10 years at Merck, studying at night. He learned so much after almost being killed by pancreatic cancer 10 prior, about caring for those with the disease.  He retired from Merck in June 2018, excited to pursue, full-time, his interest in ministry. He was to be ordained the very day that, instead, we performed his funeral.

Franco dreamed of starting a ministry for cancer care. Utilizing the strength of faith communities collaborating through a non-profit community development corporation, we are poised to make good on Franco’s dream, and begin the NJ Congregational Center for Cancer Care located at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.  

NJ CCCC Program Activities

The work of the NJ CCCC will respond to the complexity of cancer in our families and communities through individual, congregational, and systemic engagement, support, and advocacy.

  1. Care for those with cancer – this includes assisting with immediate needs, mental health needs for adapting to living in a new reality with cancer, prayer chains within congregations
  2. Care for Caregivers – mental health needs, immediate needs, care for medical professionals, and clergy
  3. Training for Lay-Chaplains – develop a program to train lay people in cancer chaplaincy and place them in non-traditional places such as outpatient centers
  4. Explore and develop ethical relationships with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals in order to work collaboratively on cancer related research, including immunotherapy. One example could be students at the RWJH Medical School, and students in the seminary working collaboratively on cancer-related research projects that utilize populations in congregations.
  5. Create prayers, litanies, and resources specific to various types of cancers, treatments, caregivers, and more. 
  6. Create a referral system for NJ CCCC volunteers and clients with and through congregations. This could include a database that catalogs needs and matches with volunteer, a free hotline for congregations in New Jersey to call for support around care for congregants with a cancer diagnosis, accompaniment to congregants and community members going through immunotherapy or other treatments
  7. Disseminate literature and resources for congregations and communities including opportunities for congregation-based early intervention screenings, working closely with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, both the cancer center and the chaplaincy department, to incorporate educational and community health initiatives into congregational life.
  8. Advocacy and Fundraising – including sponsoring bills favoring cancer research, walk-a-thons, and better utilizing congregations for fundraising and advocacy for existing cancer research organizations.  

Consultation Services

CIC is available for consultation services to any faith community who would like to explore beginning or expanding a community service project or social justice initiative.  Read more