Where to go for Healthcare

by Kinny Nahal


Within the local area of Trenton, NJ, the Henry J. Austin Health Clinic (HJAHC) is the city’s largest non-hospital based ambulatory care provider and aims to provide quality health care service to its locals.

In order to be eligible, an individual needs to earn an income of less than $19,600 per year and provide personal financial information regarding health insurance. It is a low cost service that provides patients with medical/ambulatory needs including: adult medicine, pediatrics, HIV treatment, gynecology, dental care, podiatry, and ophthalmology. Many additional services include social service, nutrition, intervention, transportation, substance abuse assessment, translation services, and an onsite pharmacy.

The HJAHC was established in 1969 as Trenton’s Neighborhood Health Center and was eventually incorporated into a private, nonprofit entity in 1986.

The mission of HJAHC is to provide “quality, community-based, affordable, accessible primary health care services in a culturally sensitive manner with respect and dignity.” The clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a federal title given from the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is allocated to private non-profit/public health care organizations that aid “uninsured or medically under-served populations.”

The clinic, in coordination with FQHCs, operates its services to all individuals despite their inability to pay, thus only charging for services on a Board approved sliding-fee scale that is grounded on the patient’s family income and size. In general, HJAHC delivers quality care to about 17,000 individuals every year, which adds up to over 61,000 visits in three City of Trenton locations.

With this quality care stems another specialty program that has further come to help people without prescription coverage for more than 20 years through the Share the Care Program. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals has joined with HJAHC to give its eligible patients Pfizer medications to treat common chronic medical conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. According to HAJHC, “Pfizer has filled an important gap in healthcare.”

Charity healthcare has generally come to serve low income patients for free or reduced prices in the United States. Specifically looking at New Jersey’s charity healthcare system, not only has healthcare come to financially benefit patients, but it has also provided them with a means to receive proper and safe medical care.

Looking forward to great success, the Trenton HJAHC welcomed its new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. George C. Stokes, as of October 3, 2011.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.

The Unspoken Reality of LGBT Homeless Youth

by Megan G.


For many youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), there exists a very real fear of becoming a part of the homeless statistic. A large number of LGBT youth find themselves without homes due in part to emotional and physical abuse that cause them to choose between fight or flight. For some, being kicked out of their home is the unfortunate outcome of coming out.

A former student of The College of New Jersey who identifies as transgender recollects his struggles of coming out in a community with limited resources. No longer able to attend TCNJ due to being cut off by his family, he has faced ongoing emotional abuse due to his gender identity.

“There are scant resources available for LGBT homeless youth. The homeless shelters that accommodate the general population are associated with a high incidence of homophobia and transphobia…Additionally, these shelters are segregated by birth sex. As far as emotional support, I struggled this summer to find a trans-support groups that was near me in Central Jersey.”

This student recollects the experience of having to leave college:

“…my mom demanded to know from a campus cop-with hysterical stridency-the location of the nearest police station so that she could leave me there, because she didn’t want me anymore…So for days, I bounced around from friend to friend, to Philadelphia, certain that I had been forced into the streets. I had packed my bags without the intention of ever fully unpacking them again.”

The reality of his situation is not uncommon. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLT), 26% of LGBT youth who come out to their parents/guardians are kicked out of their homes. According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, 30% of LGBT youth have experienced physical abuse from their families when coming out. The NGLT states that out of the 2 million youth who experience homelessness each year 1 in 5 or 20-40% identify as LGBT. Such statistics beg the questions, who and where can these youth turn to?

Many LGBT youth find themselves in the foster care system, where centers often have no policies against sexual orientation discrimination. The New York Task Force (NYTF) reports that 78% of LGBT youth run away from their placements or were taken out of their placements because of hostility towards their gender identity or sexual orientation.

In Central New Jersey, no concrete data or reports exist explaining the issue of LGBT homeless and run-away youth in the community; however that is not to say the issue does not exist.

Mercer County is fortunate enough to be home to one of the three LGBT group homes in the entire nation. Tamra Hooks, program director of LifeTies –Triad House, explains that the group home “provides housing…for LGBTQ youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who are victims of abuse, neglect and/or homelessness.” Hooks explains that “many youth are reluctant to identify as an LGBT youth making it impossible for their case managers to make a referral to an appropriate program such as ours.” If interested in finding out more, Hooks encourages the community to get involved. LifeTies seeks “to establish relationships with other organizations that are willing to help raise awareness regarding LGBTQ youth issues.”

The fact that the Triad House is only one of three group homes in the entire nation that offers appropriate services for LGBT youth shows the desperate need for more organizations like it.

It is further pertinent that foster care agencies and shelters/group homes better serve the homeless community by adopting policies of non-discrimination for LGBT citizens and youth. This is the only way we can begin to combat the issue of LGBT youth who find themselves in unsafe environments with no support, resources, or places to go to in times of desperate need.


Contacts for LGBT Youth in Central Jersey:

•LifeTies: Triad House http://lifeties.org/

609-771-4221 thooks@lifetiesinc.org

•Anchor House (609) 392-6100 info@


•HiTOPS http://hitops.org/


This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.

Services De Alimientos De Emergencia

by Chad Berman, translated by Paula Figueroa-Vega


Existen innumerables esfuerzos que se realizan en el área de Trenton con respecto a los refugios de emergencia alimentaria. Un sitio que me siento especialmente orgulloso de conocer es el East Trenton Center Food Pantry en Habitat for Humanity. El programa de donaciones de comida está dirigida por la fantástica Liz Leonard y sirve a la comunidad local de Trenton.

En este lugar se colecta comida y se despensa alimentos a familias necesitadas en el área. Ellos reciben donaciones de individuos, comerciantes, iglesias, y escuelas. El personal y los voluntarios utilizan un sistema muy complejo que determina quién recibe qué tipo de comida y cuanto reciben de acuerdo a la cantidad de identificaciones que los patrones proveen. Entre más identificaciones el patrón prove mas alimentos reciben, esto es un método utilizado para eliminar a aquellos que buscan limosnas. Liz es muy apasionada acerca del programa de comida, un hecho que he notado durante mi tiempo trabajando con ella.

Ella siempre está buscando voluntaries e incluso aprecia a aquellos que simplemente expresan interés en ayudar a la despensa.

La despensa está financiada por la Fundación Bonner y el Mercer Street Friends Food Bank y se ha convertido en un elemento básico en la comunidad. He visto un sinnúmero de clientes que vienen a través del centro a recibir donaciones de alimentos necesarios tal como los alimentos enlatados, frutas y verduras.

El East Trenton Center Food Pantry ha sido fundamental en la distribución de alimentos a los miembros necesitados de la comunidad, especialmente durante el huracán Irene y sus repercusiones. Trenton fue afectado severamente por Irene y la despensa de alimentos fue un gran éxito en la prevención de hambre durante las condiciones desesperadas que los ciudadanos de Trenton tuvieron que soportar. La despensa de comida fue realmente los únicos medios de conseguir alimento para la mayoría de los residentes, ya que el esfuerzo por el gobierno local y federal fue mediocre e hicieron muy poco para ayudar. La cocina está abierta lunes, martes, miércoles de 10am a 1pm y está cerrada la primera semana de cada mes. Las donaciones son siempre bienvenidas y muy apreciadas.

El Crisis Ministry de Princeton y Trenton es otro recurso valioso para la comunidad de Trenton. El ministerio acepta donaciones de alimentos de diversas organizaciones y clubes y los distribuye a las familias e individuos de bajos ingresos.

El Crisis Ministry incluso hace entregas a domicilio a los clientes, lo cual es un enorme recurso para aquellos que no tienen manera de llegar a la organización, ya sea debido a la falta de transporte o son físicamente incapaces de hacer el viaje. Crisis Ministries, así como el Habitat for Humanity Food Pantry, se han convertido en un element esencial en la comunidad de Trenton y continúan proporcionando alimentos durante emergencias a aquellos que lo necesitan desesperadamente.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.

“Keeping The Bowl Full” at TASK

by Kelsey Wojdyla


It all started in the basement of a Trenton church. The doors to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) first opened on January 13, 1982. They will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2012.

The soup kitchen, now located on Escher Street in Trenton, launched its first ever endowment fund campaign in April 2010. TASK had set aside $500,000 from its general use endowment fund to support the campaign. They also received full participation from its staff members and board of trustees to raise a total of over $68,000. The campaign is being led by Mara Connolly Taft and Pete Taft, and is being coordinated by Irwin Stoolmacher.

Since its initiation, there have been 214 individuals, six foundations, and six companies who have contributed to Keeping The Bowl Full. As of October 2011, TASK has raised 61% of the $2 million goal. They are hoping to reach the goal by December 2012.

All campaign proceeds will be invested in a permanent savings account to ensure the future operation of TASK. Donations can be made in the form of cash, stocks, life insurance policies, annuities, and trusts.

The government provides less than 3% of TASK’s annual operating funds, even though it is the only soup kitchen in Trenton open five days a week. In its first year alone TASK served roughly 40,000 meals to the Mercer County community. That number has since more than quadrupled, with over 3,500 meals served every week.

TASK also offers free services to its patrons “to point them in the right direction,” says J Steinhauer, Community Relations and Development Program Assistant at TASK. This includes an on-site social worker who helps around 350 people each month, and the volunteer patron services office, which is in charge of all the food and hygiene drives.

TASK has also partnered with other agencies, such as Whole Foods and the Pennington Quality Market, to be able to give away fresh produce to its patrons.

In addition, the adult education program provides volunteer tutors in literacy, math, and computer skills. Dozens of students have used these skills to enter training programs, find employment and even attend college. In fact, there have already been nine students who received their GED since July.

Overall, the Keeping The Bowl Full campaign will substantially offset annual fundraising efforts. “We won’t have to fundraise as aggressively,” says Steinhauer. It will also allow TASK to continue supporting its own A-TEAM Artists of Trenton and the SHARE project for performing arts.

TASK is currently searching for a large venue to celebrate their 30th anniversary and the success of their first campaign. This free event will take place in the summer of 2013 and will serve as an opportunity to give back to the community that has given them continuous support for all these years.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.


by DJ Josso-Martin


Jessica’s long journey as an independent homeless woman began approximately eight years ago upon the death of her mother. At only eighteen years old, Jessica found herself alone and with nowhere to live. Her only option was to move to Virginia, where she was able to stay with a friend. After six months of house hopping in an unfamiliar area, Jessica heard of Covenant House, a shelter in Washington DC for homeless youth. She took her one year old son and left Virginia.

Even with the help and resources she was receiving from Covenant House, Jessica found it exceedingly difficult to survive in Washington, DC. Pregnant again, she picked up her bags and left after another difficult year. Because she had an aunt in Newark who said she would help her out, she moved to New Jersey.

Finding it difficult to find a job at seven and a half months pregnant, Jessica made the decision to attend Drake College of Business. Here she attended programs in Dental Assisting and Microsoft Office 2007.

Things were going well until her newborn and youngest son got sick. He was hospitalized with bronchiolitis. He spent three weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and two additional weeks in a standard hospital room. With unemployment pay, Jessica found herself homeless again, this time with her two sons.

Having been born and raised in Trenton, she contacted her aunt who lived in the area to try to find a place to stay. After staying there for a short while, she went to HomeFront. HomeFront was able to help her to get back on her feet. She now has a three bedroom house which she has been living in for a year, and she plans to move to another house in the next few months (after the lease on her current house expires) so that she can live closer to her son’s school. She is also currently seeking full-time employment.

Since she arrived at HomeFront, Jessica has been involved in the Art Space program. Art Space has taught her to use art, in the form of painting and poetry, as a way to express herself.

She recalls writing her first poem as an adult while waiting for the bus one day. She carries this meaningful verse with her wherever she goes, reciting it by heart:

“The world cannot define her words her inner beauty projecting outward her face with the likeness of a goddess her body built like a stallion the mother, the sister, the daughter, the sun, the earth Mother Nature at her best.”

Jessica aspires to become a published poet. She also hopes to write and publish an autobiographic account telling her life story. “I want the book to be me uncut,” Jessica states. She wants to do this, not only to express herself, but also to be a resource for others who may be enduring similar circumstances to those which she has gone through in the past.

When asked to provide words of wisdom for someone in a similar situation, Jessica responded saying “to not lose hope. Think of everything as a season, as a reason. I’m not perfect, but I am somewhat spiritual. And I do honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Your life is how it is meant to be, you just have to take every day one moment at a time. Nobody is promised tomorrow. Most importantly, just keep going. Everybody has a day when they just want to sit around a do nothing, but tomorrow get up and do something! Don’t sink into your depression. It’s never the end until it’s the end. Finally, never keep your mouth shut, ever. If you need it ask. I am always the first to say ‘I’m independent; I don’t need anybody.’ But people need people.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.