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Justice Notes

Celebrating Thirty Years of Service!

2018 has a special significance to IHN, because 30 years ago, in 1988 passionate volunteers banded together with Essex County clergy and congregations to provide families in need of housing with shelter, meals and support. The IHN shelter program was created to serve Essex families in a housing crisis, including dads and teenage boys, with a safe place to rebuild their lives. IHN Essex was the second independent agency in the country, following National Interfaith Hospitality Network - now known as Family Promise, which was founded by Karen Olsen.
Since 1988, IHN has served literally thousands of families. We have grown from serving 10 to 15 individuals in a housing crisis a year to over 330 individuals a year. Over the past 5 years, in the shelter program alone, IHN, with the help of congregations and volunteers, has provided an estimated 60,000 meals and 20,000 nights of shelter to an average of 18 families or more a year. In 2010 IHN started assisting families with on-going case management and homeless prevention services to keep families sustainably housed. Additionally, in 2012, IHN started a K-12 After School and Camp Program for the children we serve. All of this was made possible with the help of dedicated volunteers, congregations and donors.
As we celebrate 30 years of service, IHN continues to find ways to support the programs that have proven to be successful in addressing the needs of families who turn to us for help. With the engagement of various individuals and community partners, we have added several fundraising events to support our programs and services. This year's calendar will include, an " I Do Redo" party in March, the return of the Broadway event in May, the IHN Run/Walk in September, and our annual 'Journey Home' Breakfast in October. More information on these events will be shared via email and social media.
This work is no easy task. Behind this success, we have committed, generous donors to be thankful for, and great Board leadership. New IHN Board leadership includes: Chris Murphy of South Orange as IHN Board President, Denise Glassman of Short Hills as 1 st Vice President, Gigi Loh of Maplewood as Second Vice President, Debbie Kiraly of Short Hills as Secretary, and Robert Shannon Conaway of Woodland Park as Treasurer. Ellen Maddrey of Montclair, and Victoria King of Millburn have joined the board as new members. Meanwhile, our immediate Past-President Kathy Stine, of Short Hills will stay on as President Emeritus to assist with sponsorship and fundraising. Caroline Updyke of Short Hills, who resigned to spend more time on a new business venture, has promised to stay close at hand and help manage the 2018 Breakfast for IHN.
We also have a tremendous staff behind our success, and IHN reorganized in the Fall of 2017 to better address the needs of our families. We added Stephanie Edwards to our So
Stephanie Edwards joins IHN Social Services Staff.
cial Services staff as Housing Stabilization Case Manager to assess the needs of families in a housing crisis in order to prevent their homelessness. Meanwhile, Brenda Myrick, IHN Director of Social Services and Housing, took over management of the Shelter program to ensure that our most vulnerable clients are carefully guided towards finding housing stability.
After 30 years, the need is still great, because Essex County continues to have the highest rate of homeless in the State with an uptick in the number of homeless families in 2017. As a result, we are in urgent need of more congregational shelter support.

Thanks very much to all of our volunteers, donors, Dream Team multi-year pledge donors, community partners, foundations, and the backbone of our success, the many congregations and temples in our community for all your support!   Let us continue our great teamwork, to change the lives of the many homeless working families in need. It is through teamwork that IHN continues to serve families in need, changing lives and standards of living, one family at a time. Thank you for giving our neediest neighbors a leg up through your  time and generosity. May you have a blessed and peaceful New Year!

Emma Justice,
Executive Director


Our first fundraising event in the new year is around the corner! Mark your calendars and come enjoy an evening of merry making at the I Do Redo wedding party fundraiser for IHN. 

This exciting and fun event is organized by Ginge Calhoun of the Allison Ziefert real estate group in Maplewood as part of their ongoing efforts to help raise awareness about IHN (see story below).

To get your tickets or support this fundraiser, go to:

All proceeds from this event will benefit IHN families. We look forward to seeing you on March 10!


Our work is strengthened by the continued generosity and support extended to us by community partners and foundations.
We have had great support from foundations including Partners for Health, the Montclair Foundation, Montclair Fund for Women, The Orange Orphan Society, The Junior League of the Oranges and Sho
rt Hills , and The United Way. These foundations help us with adult training and educatio n, case management hours, and camp scholarships for children. Why is this help so vital? Have you heard the expression "rent eats first"? The families we serve have such limited incomes, they can't afford tutoring, extra transportation costs, food, clothes and camp programs for their children. However, thanks to the the vision of these tremendous foundations and anonymous don ors, IHN can make a difference.  

In 2017 we added new security equipment to our offices with the help of the Hyde & Watson Foundation, and technical support and shelter support came from Catholic Human Services. Finally, f or the third year in a row, Montclair based Partners For Health Foundation (PFH) designated IHN as one of the charities eligible for their year-end matching grant campaign to fight hunger and homelessness. Donations made to PFH of $50 or more were doubled up to $20,000. Your generous response to our call for donations far exceeded our goal, so thank you!
Making spirits bright! Singing holiday songs at the annual IHN holiday party.
Heralding Holiday Cheer!

We'd like to thank St. Rose of Lima for sponsoring our annual holiday party for the IHN families again this year.  The children anxiously awaited St. Claus (fr. John), sang with our musicians, Michael Colorossi and Stephanie Eller, and continued their fun with face painting, balloon characters and crafts. And, of course, the food was delicious!  

Saint Rose of Lima congregation volunteers make every effort to make the holiday party a fun and delightful evening for our families, and we are incredibly grateful for their efforts. Our community partners such as Saint Rose of Lima are vital to the successes we have at IHN in helping families in a housing crisis find stability. We look forward to continued partnerships in 2018!

IHN Patron Donna Zaros with IHN Social Services staff member Stephanie Edwards, organizing  Thanksgiving baskets for IHN families.
Holiday Drives For The Homeless

Yet again, we received an unprecedented response to our call for Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts this year for families served by IHN.
A room full of cheer! Organizing Christmas gift donations for distribution to IHN families.

From complete Thanksgiving meals for 60 families, to Christmas gifts and Pajama sets for entire families, individuals, organizations and congregations rallied this holiday season with unparalleled generosity.
We are grateful to all who participated in these drives and for their support in addressing the needs of homeless families in Essex County! 
First Annual 'A Home For All Run/Walk' 

IHN Executive Director Emma Justice with Victoria King, Essex County Executive Joseph D. Vincenzo Jr, and Hudson Haas at Clipper Pavillion at the start of the event.
Fitness enthusiasts, and IHN supporters Victoria King and her son Hudson Haas of Millburn High School organized a successful run/walk for IHN on October 21 at South Mountain Reservation. 
Victoria and Hudson's tireless efforts at organizing and promoting the event resulted in a successful turnout of participants as well as funds raised. Runners and walkers were rewarded with a beautiful morning, healthy snacks and music provided by a DJ!
If you were unable to join us this year, please do so next  year. Event announcements will be posted on our website and Facebook page. 
Event co-chair Caroline Updyke speaking to the guests attending the breakfast event held at Mayfair Farms.
A Journey Home Annual Breakfast - Celebrating Success!
Thank you to all who participated in the annual fundraising breakfast held in October, 2017 at Mayfair Farms in West Orange! The event was a big success thanks to the 400 guests who took time from their busy schedules to attend.
In their evocative and poignant remarks, co-chairs Kathy Stine and Caroline Updyke appealed to the hearts and minds of those in attendance. Kathy Stine reminded the guests that IHN's successes are a result of the many forms of support received from congregations, volunteers, donors, sponsors and other community partners, because "it takes a village" to successfully address the issue of family homelessness. "Without the many forms of your ongoing support we could not bring the love, the guidance and the potential to parents who understand that they NEED to hit the reset button, make a realistic plan and then follow it, in order to stop living a day-to-day existence, and instead build a brighter future for themselves and their children".

Caroline Updyke borrowed the words of IHN client Marie who had earlier given an emotional testimonial about being homeless with two small children, and how IHN had helped her find a solution to her crisis. Moved by Marie's words of encouragement to herself to "try harder" for the sake of her children, Caroline urged the audience to make those words a mantra to live by. She encouraged everyone to try harder to help those in need because " a small happening can be a catalyst to big change. A donation. A raised hand. A meal cooked. A smile offered. A place to go after school. Someone to be there for you when you need it. Those seemingly small agents of change can sometimes be downright transformative  to the recipient".

A special thank you to the event sponsors  who helped offset the cost of the event with their generous sponsorship gifts, table hosts who worked tirelessly to ensure every seat was filled, Rabbi Mathew Gewirtz of  Congregation B'nai Jeshurun for providing the invocation, Mr. Frank Hendricks a long term volunteer at IHN host congregation Prospect Presbyterian Church in Maplewood for his inspiring visionary speech, IHN clients Marie and Candice for sharing their journey from homelessness to finding housing stability with the help of IHN, all the volunteers, vendors, and last but not least, event co-chairs Kathy Stine and Caroline Updyke for their tireless efforts in ensuring the success of the biggest fundraiser of the year!
Event chair Maggie Borgen (in red dress), is joined on stage by other performers at the teen talent show for IHN.
In Harmony For A Worthy Cause!

The Harmony Concert for IHN was a delightful variety show of teen talent organized by In Harmony Montclair on August 25th. 
Under the leadership of Montclair High School Freshman Maggie Borgen, In Harmony Montclair organizes variety shows to raise funds for charitable organizations in Montclair each year. 
Their 2017 event to raise funds for IHN was held at Central Presbyterian Church in Montclair. The event was a whopping success with close to a 100 guests in attendance. All proceeds from tickets sales, the silent auction and bake sale were donated to IHN. 
We are grateful to Maggie and her family for their tireless efforts in organizing this event, the teen performers, stage crew and helpers, all vendors who donated to the silent auction, and Central Presbyterian Church and staff for the space and assistance for making this event a success! Thank you!

A big shout out to all our volunteers who work tirelessly to help IHN provide services to families in a housing crisis. Our volunteers are our backbone!
We would like to recognize and thank the following volunteers for their special contributions to IHN in 2017: 
Eagle Scout Jared Neyman of troop 5 Maplewood transformed a corner of IHN headquarters
Jared Neyman built this mini kitchen at IHN headquarters.
into a mini kitchen!  We love it!  Thank you!
IHN Executive Director Emma Justice presents a service award pin to RSVP volunteer Lorraine De Santi.
Lorraine De Santi - Our volunteer from RSVP who volunteers in the office and at events, received the Sliver President's Volunteer Service Award from RSVP for the number of volunteer hours logged in with a charity!  Congratulations and much gratitude to Lorraine from all of us at IHN!
Allison Ziefert (R), Ginge Calhoun (L), and Laura Diecidue of the Allison Ziefert real estate group in Maplewood.
Making A Difference - A Promising Partnership!

We are excited to announce that Maplewood based Allison Ziefert and her real estate group, A to Z, have pledged to support IHN through awareness raising campaigns, events and by making a donation to IHN with every home sale closing.
"One of the things I love about real estate is the tangible impact we can have on our community. We were giving but our giving was all over the place," says Allison Ziefert, lead agent of Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group at Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct in Maplewood, NJ. "We wanted to concentrate our donations where it made sense for our business. We realized Interfaith Hospitality Network was a natural corollary to our business of selling homes -- helping people who don't have homes."
In keeping with their pledge, Allison and her team are charging full steam ahead with their support. Besides making monetary donations, including sponsoring the 2017 Breakfast at the Silver level, the A to Z real estate group has conducted a holiday PJ drive collecting over 100 pajamas for IHN families, and they are in the throes of organizing their first fundraising event to benefit IHN, the I Do Redo event to be held on March 10, 2018 at the Woodland in Maplewood. 
We are grateful to Allison and her partner Ginge Calhoun for their tireless efforts on behalf of IHN and look forward to their continued support of our programs.
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County |  973-746-1400 | i 

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