All posts by Jared Kofsky

A-TEAM Artists to Display Work at Capital Health in Hopewell

By Jared Kofsky

The Trenton Community A-TEAM’s Stockton 51 gallery. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Wall.

The Trenton Community A-TEAM (TCAT) has become an institution in New Jersey’s capital city. From giving local artists a venue to paint and perform to holding events for local residents and visitors out of its studio on North Stockton Street to providing artwork for each issue of The Wall, TCAT stands as a pillar of the Trenton community.

However, for many years, residents of the suburbs surrounding the city were unaware of the organization’s existance. That too is beginning to change as the work of TCAT artists, many of whom have experienced homelessness and/or poverty, continues to be put on display in galleries and museums across Central New Jersey.

Flyer for the Trenton Community A-TEAM’s upcoming show at Capital Health Regional Medical Center – Hopewell. Credit Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

Soon, residents of Hopewell Township and neighboring communities who visit Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell will be greeted by artwork from the A-TEAM. The hospital, which is located off of Interstate 95 at Exit 3B, will hold the ‘A is for Art. T is for Team’ exhibition in partnership with the Hopewell Valley Arts Council (HVAC) from March 1 through May 21. A variety of pieces will be on display on the second floor’s Investors Bank Art & Healing Gallery.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on from 6:00pm to 7:30pm on Thursday, March 1, according to the HVAC. During the event, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen’s band, The FunkTASKtiks, will perform while attendees browse the 51 pieces that were selected for display.

The FunkTASKtiks rehearse at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Wall.

To learn more, call Capital Health at (609) 303-4000.


Are you looking to find housing, food, and/or clothing in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or other Mercer County communities? You can now pick up the Winter 2017-18 edition of The Wall at dozens of sites throughout the region. The newspaper’s resource guide features a variety of local organizations and agencies that are ready to serve you.

HomeFront Headquarters to Hold Open House

By Jared Kofsky

A student from The College of New Jersey helps stock the shelves at HomeFront in Lawrence Township during a CEL (Community Engaged Learning) Day. Photo by Jared Kofsky.

This week, Mercer County residents will get the opportunity to learn more about the services offered by a major local organization.

HomeFront, which serves residents of the capital region who are experiencing homelessness and/or poverty from its office in Trenton’s East Trenton Center, its Family Campus in Ewing Township, the Lawrence Community Center, the FreeStore in Trenton’s Chambersburg neighborhood, and its headquarters facility in Lawrence Township, has been operating in this community for well over two decades. The group, which is a community partner of The College of New Jersey’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research, offers resources and services such as a food pantry, emergency housing, transitional housing, affordable housing, ArtSpace, SewingSpace, Furnish the Future, and more.

Now, those interested in finding out more about the services that are offered by HomeFront will have another opportunity to do so. The organization will hold an open house called ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’ this Tuesday, February 13th, according to the Trenton Health Team. From 4:00pm to 7:00pm, attendees will be able to tour the headquarters facility at 1880 Princeton Avenue near the Brunswick Circle in Lawrence Township. The building is is accessible from New Jersey Transit’s 606 bus. From 4:00pm to 7:00pm, visitors can meet the staff at HomeFront along with the Board of Directors and local volunteers. Information will be available in regards to signing up for services from the organization.


Are you looking to find housing, food, and/or clothing in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or other Mercer County communities? You can now pick up the Winter 2017-18 edition of The Wall at dozens of sites throughout the region. The newspaper’s resource guide features a variety of local organizations and agencies that are ready to serve you.

 

Free Lunch to be Served in East Trenton

By Jared Kofsky

As freezing temperatures continue to impact the capital region, Trenton residents and families experiencing homelessness will be welcome to come inside for a hot meal this weekend. 

Although most soup kitchens and food pantries in the Trenton area are closed on Saturdays and Sundays,  a church in the East Trenton neighborhood will open its doors on Saturday, February 10th to offer lunch to people experiencing homelessness. The Church of Christ, located within a 15 minute walk of the Rescue Mission of Trenton at 411 North Clinton Avenue, will be collaborating with the Allentown Presbyterian Church (APC) in suburban Monmouth County in order to serve this late morning meal.

According to the APC’s website, doors will open at 10:30am. Items will include salads and fruit packs, and clothing might also be available to residents who come early.


Are you looking to find housing, food, and/or clothing in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, or other Mercer County communities? You can now pick up the Winter 2017-18 edition of The Wall at dozens of sites throughout the region. The newspaper’s resource guide features a variety of local organizations and agencies that are ready to serve you.

A Special Announcement from The Wall

By Jared Kofsky

For eight years, The Wall has been published by Bonner Community Scholars at The College of New Jersey with and for individuals experiencing homelessness in Trenton and surrounding communities in Mercer County, New Jersey. Since our first issue was released in 2010, we have been providing our readers with a guide to local resources, news about local organizations, information about laws impacting residents experiencing homelessness, op-ed pieces, human interest stories, artwork, poetry, and more. 

Currently, we are distributing the 2017-18 issue of our publication to dozens of libraries, soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries across the capital region.  This issue, which can also be viewed here, features a profile of the Trenton Community A-TEAM’s Demond Williams, an update on the issues affecting Trenton’s water supply, two pieces by columnist Essence Scott, a look behind the scenes of The Salvation Army’s Mobile Canteen, a preview of the Rescue Mission of Trenton’s upcoming shared living space for women experiencing homelessness, information about RISE in Hightstown, and an exclusive report about a father and son reuniting outside of a Trenton shelter.

However, the latest edition of The Wall that can now be found throughout Mercer County and eastern Bucks County is also the last edition of The Wall.  Fortunately, although the name that this publication has used since the first issues were distributed nearly a decade ago is coming to an end, the content that you have come to expect from us is not going away. In fact, there will soon be even more of it.

The team behind The Wall is excited to announce that we are officially changing our name to The Streetlight. The changing of our name, which was approved by our Editorial Board in November 2017, will also come with a new website, a new email address, a new logo, a new resource guide, community events, and more! Stay tuned for the Summer 2018 edition of The Streetlight and for additional announcements coming your way.

As always, we welcome your involvement in what is now The Streetlight. To learn more about joining our publication, click here.

The Wall is becoming The Streetlight. Here is a first look at our new logo.

EXCLUSIVE: Father and Son Reunite at Rescue Mission After 24 Years Apart

By Annette Espinoza and Jared Kofsky

Morgan Wilson and Morgan West Jackson reunited at the Rescue Mission of Trenton. Photo courtesy of Morgan Wilson.

Editor’s Note: This is the first part on an exclusive two-part series about Morgan Wilson’s surprise reunion with his son. Part 2 will feature the story of what has occurred in the time since this story was written. It will appear in our Summer 2018 edition, which will be known as The Streetlight.

Between his first and second days working at the Rescue Mission of Trenton as part of his new job at the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen patron and lifelong Mercer County resident Morgan Wilson crossed paths with an individual that shared a unique connection to him.

Wilson remembers the echo of this young man’s name that drew him out to the lobby that day in September 2015. There, in the entrance where many young men like him walk in and out for the services at the Rescue Mission, was someone named Morgan too.

“I’m sitting down and I’m looking at him like a baby,” Wilson recollected in an exclusive interview with The Wall.

“I said ‘your name’s Morgan? My name’s Morgan too,” before stepping outside to continue conversing with the other man.

As he soon realized, that day, after searching for him for over two decades, the young man who Morgan had run into was none other than Morgan West Jackson, his long lost first son.

As Jackson spoke about how he was adopted at a young age, and never knew his father, Wilson became increasingly confident.

“I listened to his story that day and I realized that this was my son,” he explained.

Twenty-four years filled with trepidation and loss had separated Wilson from Jackson.

“I didn’t want to be absent, I didn’t want to be like my father,” Wilson told The Wall.

However, in the early 1990s, Wilson’s struggles with drug use and subsequent periods of incarceration ended up dividing him from his child, but he always knew that Jackson was out there somewhere. As Wilson moved into transitional housing, a need grew within him to reclaim his family and reunite with his missing child.

In his mind, Wilson was haunted by an image of his deathbed and his wondering of who would carry his casket. Who would attend his funeral? And what would be said about him? This rang a need to leave a legacy; a legacy of positivity and hope, and a legacy for his sons to carry on.

Now, Wilson, who has a four-year-old son as well, describes himself as a man with so much more at stake and so much more to live for.  He is proud of his story and his efforts to be a better, more positive person for the people that depend on him.

Wilson and Jackson were inseparable after their encounter. Although the feeling of being called ‘dad’ by a 24-year-old man was surprising to Wilson, it introduced him to a love like no other—a love that stemmed from an understanding and forgiveness from Jackson.

“He is a good kid,” Wilson remarked, “better than me when I was his age.”

The more that Wilson spoke with his son, the more he learned about the son’s life over the previous 24 years. Jackson had been adopted by a suburban Philadelphia family as a young child. He later lived in both New York and New Jersey, before recently returning to the Keystone State, settling in Scranton and finding a new job as a hotel dishwasher.

“Working hard is in the bloodline,” according to Wilson, “I am so proud of him for never giving up.”

Although Scranton lacks direct public transportation to Trenton, and visits between Wilson and Jackson are rare, both speak frequently, especially since Jackson’s adoptive mother, Frances, passed away in 2014.

“He is very protective of me, said Wilson. “I am the only person he has left.”

Wilson describes how his son “got me in the loop” by signing him up Facebook, and speaks fondly of Jackson coming to the capital city recently to sleep over, share drinks and stories, and discover additional commonalities between the two of them. As it turned out, both Wilson and Jackson had overcome a variety of obstacles in their lives, developed an interest in boxing, and shared a sense of ambition to be better men.

“When he heard about all of the things I had overcome, he said ‘Dad, you’re the greatest’,” Wilson recalled.

Although in the two years since their first reunion, Wilson continues to miss Jackson, he is not the only one. Wilson’s four-year old son asks for his brother consistently, as do his sisters, his cousins, and his grandmother, who were equally excited about regaining a family member when Wilson shared the news with them back in 2015. His two sons, despite being from different marriages and having a 22 year age gap between them, play together and are mentors to each other. He hopes that his sons will continue to strive for positive and healthy relationships, and that they will remain family oriented and protective of one another.

Wilson’s case manager at Oaks Integrated Care since 2014, Rose Bernard, remembers the text message she received from Wilson that fall day two years ago. He wrote that something “unbelievable” had occurred to him and that she had to meet with him immediately. They met outside of Trenton City Hall that day and Wilson explained the heartwarming news.

“I’m supposed to help him, but I think he’s helped me more,” said Bernard, describing Wilson’s story as one of inspiration. “

Although you go through some hellish situations sometimes, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” says Wilson. “You’ve just gotta’ keep pushing.”

So what does the future hold for Wilson and all of his relatives? After putting himself together again “like a puzzle,” Wilson is enjoying the joys of life with his sons and his entire family by his side. In fact, Wilson is ready to grow the family and hopes to be a grandfather. For now, though, Wilson looks forward each year to March when both of his sons celebrate their birthdays and Jackson comes back to his birthplace, Trenton.

“The bond that we have is incredible,” said Wilson. “I just wish he wasn’t so far away.”

Morgan Wilson and Rose Bernard outside of the New Jersey State House in Trenton, N.J. Photo by Jared Kofsky.