Category Archives: Non-Profit

Emergency Food Services

by Chad Berman


There are countless efforts being made in the Trenton area with regards to emergency food shelters. A site that I am particularly knowledgeable about and proud of is the East Trenton Center Food Pantry at Habitat for Humanity. The pantry is run by the fantastic Liz Leonard and serves the local Trenton community.

The pantry collects and allocates food to needy families in the area, receiving donations from individuals, retailers, churches, and schools. The staff and volunteers utilize a very intricate system that determines who gets what kind of food and how much they get based upon the amount of identification the patrons give. The more identification given, the more food one receives, which is a method used to weed out those seeking handouts.

Liz is very passionate about the pantry, a fact that I have noticed through my time working with her. She is always looking for volunteers and appreciates it even when someone simply expresses interest in helping the pantry.

The pantry is funded by the Bonner Foundation and the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and has become a staple in the community. I have seen countless patrons come through the center and receive much needed donations of such foods as canned goods and fruits and vegetables.

The East Trenton Center Food Pantry has been instrumental in distributing food to needy members of the community, especially throughout Hurricane Irene and its aftermath. Trenton was severely affected by Irene and the food pantry was a phenomenal success in preventing hunger during the desperate conditions that citizens of Trenton had to endure. The food pantry was really the only means of getting food for most residents, as the lackluster effort by the local and federal governments did little to help.

The pantry is open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 10am to 1pm, and is closed the first week of every month. Donations are always welcome and greatly appreciated.

The Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton is yet another invaluable resource to the community of Trenton. The ministry takes in donations of groceries from various organizations and clubs and distributes them to lower income families and individuals. The Crisis Ministry even makes home deliveries to patrons, which is an enormous resource for those that have no way of getting to the ministry, whether due to the lack of transportation or being physically unable to make the trip. The Ministry, as well as the Habitat for Humanity Food Pantry have become staples in the community of Trenton and continue to provide emergency food to those that desperately need it.

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

Steps to Self-Fulfillment: Beyond the TEACH Program

By Tiffany Teng


“The smile on her face was so worth it, I’d do it every day if I could,” Ryan described the moment he told his mother he passed the GED. After years of living on the streets, coping with his heroin drug addiction, raising his son (now 13 years old) and landing back in jail every couple of years, he is eager, yet terrified, to move on with his life. Ryan R. is a 36 year-old client at the Rescue Mission’s TEACH Program, an educational program run by Ida Malloy.

During his interview, Ryan detailed some of misconceptions about homelessness and praised programs such as TEACH. Not only is passing the GED a motivating factor to move forward, but “people like Miss Ida are the ones who motivate you, they let you know that you’re worth it whether you realize it or not…no matter how pissed off you get.”

At the Rescue Mission, he was finally motivated to make his mother (who was diagnosed with breast cancer) and son proud and by receiving an education. Currently finishing the methadone treatment, Ryan sees such programs as opportunities, but certainly no cakewalk; “you’ve got to do the footwork, no one’s gonna do it for you.”

Throughout the years, Ryan was most bothered by the stereotype that all drug addicts are awful, violent people. He points out that before he became homeless in November, he and his son used to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those on the streets. Ryan emphasized, “Homelessness doesn’t care whether you’re white, black, gay, or straight…”


So, what is the solution?

Successful drug treatment programs, re-entry programs and increasing the availability of housing after prison. Decreasing incarceration of drug abusers, and most of all, making people aware. Shedding light on the people living under the bridge. Having everything taken from you. “You gotta have nothing in order to know how you’ll make out.”

Ryan is a prime example of a man who came from a good, tight-knit family who fell into the wrong crowd out of sheer curiosity. He will be the first one to admit, “I did this to myself. Now I’ve got health problems, physically and mentally.”

Education, above all, is crucial to eliminating homelessness. At the very least, educating others about the issue of homelessness unearths the real problems that remain undetected and unaddressed.

Soon Ryan hopes to detox from methadone, move on with his life, and get an education.

“A place without homelessness, no drugs.”

The Rescue Mission of Trenton’s TEACH Program is a comprehensive adult education program that offers GED preparation, along with basic life skills and technical training. It strives to create employment and life-changing opportunities through its job placement program for residents. The TEACH Program relies on volunteers for tutoring and special classes. Questions can be directed to

ReStore Grand Opening

By Shaun Field

The city of Trenton was once known for being a center of produc­tion for many different industries. However, as businesses began to move out, poverty began to rise and the city that once went by the slogan “Trenton Makes, The World Takes,” began to see an increase in violence and looting. If you drive around the city or hop on one of the various #600 bus lines you will notice the plethora of abandoned warehouses and apart­ment buildings lining the Route 1 corridor, many with more than one broken window.

Habitat for Humanity of Trenton is committed to serve the community of Trenton by providing affordable housing for qualifying families. Via an application process, families who qualify financially can partner with Habitat on the construction of a brand new, energy-efficient home with a zero interest mortgage.

A zero percent interest mortgage is very helpful for families with multiple children because they can save money to put towards the cost of groceries and healthcare. However, this is not the only resource Habitat for Human­ity of Trenton is providing in Mercer County.

On the White House authorized National Day of Service, which also fell aptly on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Habitat for Humanity of Tren­ton officially opened the doors to the ReStore located at 106 Ewing Street at the cross of Ogden St. and Southard St.

The ReStore is a self-service ware­house of donated furniture, appliances, cabinetry, flooring, paint and construc­tion supplies, which are sold at a heav­ily reduced rate from retail stores such as Home Depot and Lowes.

Shoppers are treated to a plethora of new and like new cabinet sets, brand new boxes of tile and carpets, and a show room of antique and mod­ern furniture. At reduced prices, shop­pers can walk away with a two piece living room set for less than the price of one piece in a retail establishment.

There is a segment of the popula­tion in Trenton that has found com­fort in the newly established store. Landlords and construction special­ists frequent the store for appliances, doors, windows and flooring. As well, homeowners have found smaller things, such as light fixtures, furniture and dishware to their liking.

As a benefactor of the commu­nity, Habitat has been operating a food pantry with fresh vegetables on Fridays and an after-school Learning Lab for children from ages 6-13. The Habitat of Trenton has now, however, expanded its sphere of influence by adding the ReStore.

The ReStore is not only a win for the community. Habitat for Human­ity of Trenton also reaps the benefit of income generation that is used for operational costs and is then turned directly towards the construction of new homes.

Tom Caruso, the Executive Direc­tor at Habitat said the sale of “these donated new and used items helps Habitat fund our programs for the low income clients we serve. This additional means of raising funds is critical. The economy has decreased donor contributions significantly and the ReStore will help fill the gap.” In other words, the Habitat ReStore provides a cycling of funds that helps all shoppers, patrons, children, and partner families in different ways.

The Habitat for Humanity of Tren­ton ReStore is one of many affiliate-run ReStores across the country. In New Jersey alone, there are more than 13 Habitat for Humanity affiliates and 6 Restores, allowing for multiply com­munities to receive the added benefits the ReStore has to offer.

The Habitat for Humanity of Tren­ton ReStore is located at 106 Ewing Street in Trenton, New Jersey (at the cross of Ogden St. and Southard St.) and the winter hours are Wednesday-Saturday from 9:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.

Check out Habitat for Humanity online at for informa­tion on all of Habitat’s programs. You can also follow them on Facebook at ‘Habitat of Trenton’ or Twitter at @habitat_trenton for various deals and promotions at the ReStore!

Project Homeless Connect’s Impact


“You wouldn’t call somebody ‘lung cancer,’ so why label people as ‘homeless’? It’s an impermanent condition, and should be regarded as such.”

― Tarry Truitt

By Tiffany Teng


Project Homeless Connect is a one-stop event for those experienc­ing homelessness, providing access to housing and legal services, medical care, clothing, haircuts, and food. Ap­proximately 300 people attended the event, and were surveyed.

Downstairs in the Samaritan Bap­tist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, patrons received services and free items. Trial sizes of Mary Kay lip balm, Palmolive hand soap, and other toiletries populated the tables while massages tables, blankets and heavy winter coats lined the pe­rimeter of the basement. Blue table­cloths indicated housing services, red for health and green for social servic­es. Crisis Ministries, Catholic Chari­ties, Henry J. Austin Health Center, St. Francis Medical Center, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, The Rescue Mis­sion and Social Security were among the services represented.

As a volunteer surveyor, I had the rare opportunity to interview the patrons and ask questions such as, “Where will you be spending tomor­row night?” and “What happened to land you in this situation?”

A few specific cases stood out. At over 80 years old, one Vietnamese woman was pushing a metal cart dou­bling as a walker with a couple boxes of cardboard—in her frustration, she ripped off a piece to scribble down her name “Nguyho” as I tried helplessly to speak to her in English and Chinese, neither of which she understood. A 26-year old woman with three chil­dren was bitter about Hurricane Sandy because she was still displaced after Hurricane Irene. General assistance welfare, food stamps and Medicaid were not enough to sustain her fam­ily—she needed permanent housing and employment. Another man said he had been homeless for all of his 60 years.

Others I surveyed ranged from ages 30 to 60. Some suffered drug abuse problems, high blood pressure, mental issues, and poor physical health. Some were not actually homeless or jobless, just in need of more social services to support their families.

All of them had two things in com­mon: compelling stories and dwin­dling strength. This is what they are telling us, this is what is true. Without basic human needs, these people are desperate for aid and are lucky to have access to programs such as Project Homeless Connect.

Homelessness knows no boundar­ies. Some are fighting to survive while others are transplanted from friends to families to shelters. It hardens them and it erases identity. One learns to discard embarrassment for a chance to become better.

During my time as Editor-in-Chief of the Wall, I finally understood the gravity of the homelessness issue in Mercer County. And this is just one sliver of the silent voices that continue to struggle for survival.

Annual Point-in-Time Count

The Point-In-Time Count, mandated by Housing and Urban Development (HUD), sent teams out starting Wednesday, January 30 at 5 P.M. for exactly 24 hours.

During the overnight time the Rescue Mission of Trenton sent teams out looking for street home­less individuals.

Starting at 6:00 A.M., there were teams at Turning Point Unit­ed Methodist Church, Salvation Army Drop-In Center, and street teams across the county, in which 110 surveys were completed. In addition, each agency completed surveys for anyone in shelters or in transitional housing.

The annual results are posted on and are pro­vided to HUD as part of reports and requests for funding.

During the year additional in­formation is collected by the shel­ters and agencies in the Homeless Information System which is reported to the Continuum of Care for planning purposes.