Womanspace: Aiding Victims of Domestic Violence

Article by Julie Kayzerman


Every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten, one in four women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime and between 4 and 8 million women are victims of domestic violence every year, according to national statistics. Yet, domestic abuse is an avoided subject, an issue that “not many people want to talk about” and even in “2013, we still think it’s not happening,” said Reyna Carothers, director of Emergency Services at Womanspace.

"Small Woman 2" by Kimberly Lennon
“Small Woman 2” by Kimberly Lennon

However, it is happening — it is happening everywhere and it is happening right here. “We know that it happens everywhere because domestic violence doesn’t discriminate,” Carothers says. “It happens everywhere regardless of your social economic status or your educational background.”

Often, leaving the violent situation leads to homelessness which can discourage a person from removing themselves from the situation.

That is why Womanspace is readily available in Mercer County, offering several programs to help victims of domestic abuse get support and overcome their tragedies.

“It’s important we do this because it’s a service that is needed, in Mercer County,” Carothers said. “I hate to say it’s bad, but it’s bad.”

Womanspace offers emergency services like 24/7 hotlines in English and Spanish with the option to connect to other languages as well as sexual assault and domestic violence response teams, transitional housing, shelters, support groups, advocacy programs, access to counseling and more.

“We can be someone who will be there for them,” says Carothers. “If they don’t want to pursue anything legally, we are still able to provide them with supportive services.”

But it is not just the obvious victims that can receive help too. According to Carothers, about 30 percent of cases include children that have been present during instances of domestic violence, and those kids are victims too that can get help from Womanspace.

Womanspace has served over 301,076 adults and children since 1977 according to their website — providing them with the help they needed catered to their personal situations — do not be afraid to make that number 301,077.

“This is something that I’m passionate about,” Carothers said. “I want to impart some sort of hope in the clients that we work with. I realize that we’re not going to be able to help everyone because it’s their choice and they may choose to go back, but my hope is that they are better off by coming to our program than they were before.”


Womanspace (609) 394-9000 1-800-572-SAFE (7233)

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper


The Return Home: “I Am Still Alive”

Article by Melissa Katz


War has plagued this country since its founding, most recently from the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to the more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each war has a different focus, origin and outcome. One thing that does not change from war to war, no matter the circumstances, is the effect it has on returning veterans. It is a simple fact – no one returns home the same as when they left. What they return home with – the traumas and the images – lasts a lifetime.

Kenneth Bridgewater, a United States Marine Corps Veteran of the Vietnam War, is now residing at the Salvation Army Perth Amboy Corps in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Bridgewater has had a life full of struggles and difficult times, from the time he was drafted at the age of 19 in 1968. He began abusing drugs as soon as he entered the service and did not stop until 2012.

"Moving Emotions" by Shanell Hutchinson
“Moving Emotions” by Shanell Hutchinson

“I’ve been clean now for 18 months. I’m still alive. I’m 65 and I’m still alive. We’re still human beings. We still have a mind and we still think.”

Bridgewater grew up in Trenton, New Jersey with a mother, three sisters and two brothers. After being drafted, he began work as a warehouseman in the U.S. Marine Corps. He described his first days in the Marine Corps as: “Scary. It was my first time away from home.”

He was assigned to stations in Hawaii and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During his time serving, Bridgewater got involved in the pervasive drug use among Army and Marine Corps troops, which continued for 44 years after returning home.

Over these 44 years, Bridgewater was in and out of jail, constantly involving himself in different drug activities.

Upon returning home, Bridgewater got married, but he did not feel any respect from the public. In 2010, he was put in jail on multiple drug charges.

“I should’ve gone in for 50 plus years. I was lucky. I got probation and a fine,” said Bridgewater.

In 2011, he was taken back to jail for probation violation and spent 5 months in the county jail.

At this point, Bridgewater had had enough. After getting out of jail, he went to the East Orange VA Hospital and spent 44 days in a drug rehabilitation program. He continued in his recovery by spending the next 6 months in the Lyons Veteran’s Hospital in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, before coming to the Salvation Army Perth Amboy Corps.

As of 2012, it is reported that as many as “62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness,” according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), prepared by the Housing and Urban Development Department for Congress. “Only 7 percent of the population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13 percent of the homeless adult population are veterans.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that “each year, Veterans Affairs (VA) provides health care to almost 150,000 homeless veterans and other services to over 112,000 veterans through its specialized homeless programs.”

Multiple factors contribute to the homelessness of veterans, such as lack of resources, poverty, support networks, employment. Difficult living conditions in substandard or overcrowded housing may be their only option. These factors are also putting about 1.4 million other veterans at the risk of finding themselves homeless, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Many of the displaced or at- risk veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in addition to substance abuse and an absence of any family or communal support. “Additionally, military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment,” said the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

“The problem is people don’t know,” said Nathan, an employee of the Salvation Army Perth Amboy Corps. “Most people are unaware of the issues when veterans return. The public needs information. It’s important for people to know how much we want to legitimately do good for the people of Perth Amboy and specifically our returning veterans.”

The Salvation Army is devoted to helping communities everywhere, keen on providing whatever is necessary to help people.

“This place is helping me get on my feet,” said Bridgewater as he smiled and let out a deep breath. “I’m still alive.”

The Salvation Army New Jersey Divisional Headquarters

P.O. Box 3170 Union, NJ  07083

Phone: 908-851-9300 Fax: 908-688-4460

Email: nj@use.salvationarmy.org


The Salvation Army Homeless Drop-In Center

575 East State Street Trenton, 08609

Phone: 609-599-9373


More resources for veterans experiencing homelessness can be found in the resource guide.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper


Providing Shelter and Support to the Homeless Youth

Article by Natalie Kouba


When hardship hits home, it can be difficult to ride out the storm. Some young adults and children decide their best option is to abandon ship and leave their families altogether, while for others, it is the only alternative. Either way, many youth nationwide are faced with homelessness each year, and look for the anchor to keep them grounded — that is what Anchor House aims to do.

Since 1978, the Anchor House in Trenton has provided a safe haven for not only the youth in Mercer County, but across the country, ensuring “a safe place to rest; wait through the storm while in crisis and a way to move on when the crisis is calmed,” according to the Anchor House website.

In Mercer County last year, 303 people under the age of 18 were reported homeless, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Of that group, 117 children who were homeless were between the ages of 7 and 17, and 186 were six-years-old or younger.

The Anchor House aims to provide opportunities for the futures of young adults through temporary housing and long-term support.

Through five different programs, youth can find the resources and support they need, respective to their appropriate ages. From newborns to 21-year-olds, the Anchor House opens its doors to anyone who walks by.

"The Bond of Love" by Gennie Darisme
“The Bond of Love” by Gennie Darisme

“They can just walk in,” said June Albanowski, director of Children & Youth Services. “So they can just ring the bell, and, you know, they can come that way. Or they can call us.”

The Anchor House is available 24/7 to ensure that help is provided whenever needed. Anchor Link, the Anchor House’s street outreach program, is a drop-in program for youth 14 to 21-years-old where they can find day-to-day relief, such as eating and showering, but is also designed to assist in strengthening life and career skills.

While the Anchor Link program does not provide housing, most of the other programs that they offer are 30-day shelters.

For the especially young children, Angel’s Wings takes in those who have faced many potential issues, ranging from neglect to abuse to behavioral problems. Newborns to 12-year-olds are welcomed into foster homes until a permanent home can be arranged.

At the Anchor House Shelter youth from 10 to 17 are housed. While it only is a 12-bed program, the staff will never turn a child away, but instead, find an alternative housing situation.

Youth gain a sense of support and purpose, at the Shelter, where it may have been lacking elsewhere. Over the course of the 30-day transitional program, these children become much more than guests.

“It is a home for them, so, you know, it’s not institutionalized,” Albanowski said.

The youth at the shelter are given a temporary release from the stresses they face, and actually have fun during their stay. Staff members assure they get to school, and even try to keep them in their own school districts, but take them on recreational and educational trips in their free time. Volunteers also work closely with the youth to tutor them and teach them about their own hobbies.

The staff and youth form friendships as well and regularly go to the local park for a game of basketball, on roller-skating outings, to the movies and even the Great Adventure theme park.

Community service is also a valued part of the program. Staff members take youth to the soup kitchen or nursing homes to lend a hand to the community which has helped them.

“We believe it is important for them to give back to the community as well and not just be recipients of service and that they are able to do things for others,” Albanowski said.

The Anchor House programs are intended to serve as temporary shelters and try to reunite youth with their families as soon as possible, when possible.

Individual, family and group counseling sessions are held weekly at the Shelter to try and knead through any communication rifts and mend gaps.

From runaways to youth who have faced abuse, neglect or homelessness, some have not only been able to get themselves out of troubling situations, but have excelled beyond what they thought was possible.

The Anchorage program, which currently only has six young adults, helps them work toward independence. Here, the young adults learn about becoming self-sufficient in their careers and finances. They gain valuable skills in communication, personal health and wellness, time management and budgeting.

From graduating high school to moving into a college dorm, the Anchor House prides itself in the success of their youth.

“One went to Rutgers … some of them even live on campus, so they transition out from our program and might go to college full- time,” Albanowski said. “That, I think, is a real success story. Some of them even say that if it weren’t for our program, they wouldn’t be in that situation.”

Anchor House Shelter, School Outreach Program (609) 396-8329

Anchorage Transitional Living Program (609) 989-1625

Anchor Link Street Outreach Program (609) 218-5630

Anchor Line (609) 218-5630



This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper


Prisoner Reentry: Giving People a Second Chance

Article written by Maria Minor

At A Better Way, a nonprofit in Trenton, we help those who have been incarcerated acclimate back into their communities and be successful members of society.

When I first started working at A Better Way, a year ago, I thought it was a friendly place with well-intentioned services. I quickly came to the realization that this nonprofit was fighting a war against injustice and overwhelming odds.

"Home" by Helen Baeza
“Home” by Helen Baeza

One day after GED class, one of my students came to me and apologized for being late. He told me that he needs this course so that he can pass and support his family. He told me that he has done the whole street thing, he has been in and out of prison, and does not want that life anymore.

The current correctional system traps people in a vicious cycle that may as well be a death sentence, and burdens law-abiding citizens with exorbitant taxes to support this injustice.

Likewise, the current reentry program — most popularly supported by our state and federal institutions — involves driving ex-inmates to a bus stop and dropping them off.

To those of us not exposed to the multidimensional issues surrounding prisoner reentry, a bus ticket may seem like a fair deal. However, imagine a man who has just finished a 15 year sentence.

When he went to prison, he had an 8th grade education to his name, most likely from an underachieving school district. He has not been educated since, and the psychological or emotional damage that occurred prior to his incarceration has not been addressed.

Family ties have been broken or strained. He may not own a house or have a place to live.

He possibly owes money for child support. He does not have a job or many means to support himself or his family. He probably does not have an active license or vehicle. And the only thing his resume shows is a criminal conviction and 15 years of unproductivity.

By all practical purposes, ex-offenders are our nation’s refugees, to whom we turn a blind-eye because we fear them, mistrust them, and do not want to be bothered. They are the invisible people who have fallen through the cracks of our society and left to “make it by” because they are criminals and have gotten what they deserve.

"City 1" by Kathy Bird
“City 1” by Kathy Bird

So they turn to the streets — the only place they can really go. More than one third of ex-offenders return to prison. This is not the life they would choose for themselves.

This current situation is not only an inexcusable social injustice, but also a drain on citizens. According to the 2012 report done by the VERA Institute of Justice, the incarceration of each individual costs about $55,000. Many who are released then become reliant on welfare and social services.

Bo-Robinson is a prison in Trenton that is addressing this in- justice. Prisoners who have a year or less remaining of their sentence are transferred to Bo-Robinson where they receive counseling, guidance, training and education. Initiatives, like these, bridge the gap between incarceration and reentry into society.

This past month, Bo-Robinson held an alumni night where ex-inmates shared their testimonies. The alumni strolled in like celebrities to the sound of a roaring crowd. One after the other had left this program and bettered their lives. They all had pursued basic and higher education, and are currently employed. Some found the love of their lives and married.

One man had served 25 years only to then earn his GED, bachelors and doctorate degrees.

When he came up to speak, he stood in front of the crowd of inmates and said, “Who wants freedom?”

A few people nodded their heads. He then yelled, “Who here wants to be free?” To those who jeered and raised their hands, he said, “Good, I can work with you.”

More importantly than any degree or job is the change of character these alumni professed. They spoke about personal responsibility, honesty and integrity. They said that humility is necessary to change, and without that willingness to reject who they were, they would have never have made it a foot off the streets.

Most ex-offenders are not nearly as fortunate as the alumni of Bo-Robinson. Without this sort if support structure, many are doomed to the same life that led them to prison in the first place, which includes poverty, homelessness, and crime.

I hope to see a brighter future for our justice system where we treat people humanely, offering them correction as well as rehabilitation. Facilities like Bo-Robinson and organizations like A Better Way prove that a second chance is not in vain and that it is never too late for people to turn their lives around and be an inspiration to us all.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper


Life after Foster Care Teaching Teens Marketable Skills and Boosting Self-Esteem

Article written by Amanda Ippolito


Foster Care

Turning 18 is a major milestone. It means going to college, moving out or finding a job. And it can be difficult. But the independence associated with this particular birthday has very different – and frightening – implications for foster care children.

At 18, teenagers in New Jersey foster care age out of the system. They face realities such as homelessness, joblessness and incarceration. Many are left to transition into the real world without the support of a family, but there is an organization based in Trenton that can help.


Beyond Expectations

Beyond Expectations is a nonprofit that provides teens with marketable, tangible skills that can be used in the workforce. The program provides hands-on media education, featuring workshops in film-making and television production.

Participants are involved in every step of the process, from the concept all the way to production. While the program focuses on media, the skills learned prepare teens for jobs in any field.

"Building Piece" by Shanna Brown
“Building Piece” by Shanna Brown

“Everything we do is about giving them something very tangible that they can use,” said Leontyne Anglin, a founder of Beyond Expectations.

The organization was started in 1999 by a group of parents in Burlington County who wanted early exposure to college and careers. In 2008, after learning about the difficulties teens in foster care face, the group decided to shift its focus. One year later, the Beyond Expectations Teen Film Program was launched.

Beyond Expectations is open to all youth – not just those in foster care. They partner with organizations such as the YMCA, group homes and mental health groups. Teens can also choose to enlist themselves individually.

Beyond Expectations has two locations: Bordentown in Burlington County and Trenton in Mercer County. It also travels across the state to work with organizations. Programs are typically five sessions. Short-term programs – such as weekend retreats and a one-day speed program – are also offered.

Workshops in the film-making program include storyboarding, camera instruction, script development, recording sessions, and film shooting. Television workshops include camera instruction, teleprompter operation, audio production, vocal techniques, and wardrobe styling. Both programs also discuss college and careers.

All aspects of production are in their hands. They decide the subject, crew and camera operators. After deciding who they will interview, they conduct research and write interview questions.

“There is nobody in any of our programs sitting in the corner. Everyone is engaged,” Anglin said.

“Participants might realize if they enjoy storyboarding and writing, they could start a blog.  And if they enjoy working behind the camera, they might consider freelance photography,” Anglin said.

Some might even decide to pursue a career in television, film or radio. In a video on Beyond Expectations’ website, Anthony Weaver, a participant in the program, says his experience has inspired him to pursue a career in media.

"A Walk" by Gennie Darisme
“A Walk” by Gennie Darisme

“I’ve taken a lot away from this (program), whether it be knowledge, or doing what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he says in the video.

While teens learn many technical skills specific to the media industry, they also learn soft skills necessary for any job.

“Some benefits teens take away from the program include enhanced communication, the ability to collaborate, refined body language and improved self-esteem,” Anglin said. “They also learn the importance of planning and management.”

“Foster children may experience a lack of trusting relationships, as they often move from place to place on their own,” Anglin said. “When they work on a crew with Beyond Expectations, they feel a sense of being needed; the rest of the group is dependent on them.”

Beyond Expectations notes on its website, “The same young people often shunned and overlooked have become the role models.”

Anglin explained that a group of young men – who many people did not want to work with, as they were “rough around the edges” – wrote and produced a short film with Beyond Expectations. After presenting their film at a community screening, they were approached by people who wanted them to speak at their schools.

“If you provide any young person – I don’t care what their background – if you provide them with access to information and resources, you can change their whole lives,” Anglin said.

“When they come to our program, we want them to learn everything they possibly can,” Anglin said.

There is a sense of urgency, she said, because they often do not hear from participants again.

“I think they’re surprised at themselves and at how much they are able to achieve in such a short span of time,” Anglin said. “Our classes are typically only 20 hours. It’s less than one day that we have to transform young people who typically are never exposed to this type of program.”

Having marketable skills – such as those learned in Beyond Expectations – is particularly important for teens in foster care, who may not have the resources or connections that other teens have.

In 2011, more than 26,000 children in foster care aged out of the system, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sources.

According to childrensrights.org, 12-13 percent of those who aged out experienced homelessness. The unemployment rate was 25-55 percent. Those employed had average earnings below the poverty level, and only 38 percent of those employed were working after one year.

To learn more about Beyond Expectations and how to get involved, visit http://beyondexp.net/.


This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper