HopeLoft, 40 East Commerce Street in Bridgeton, which is a collective impact agenda initiative of the United Advocacy Group, CASA of CGS and Revive South Jersey held their first one-of-a-kind appreciation and award ceremony on August 25th, which highlighted volunteers and family advocates who are involved with these local programs. It’s here where we all work as a team to better serve our community and we wanted to share the success stories across the board with everyone to show that their work and dedication goes beyond what they can see. We want to thank everyone who came out for a night of celebration of all your hard work. We are truly blessed to have every single one of you as apart of our UAG family and we look forward to serving our community in the future with you by our side. Below you can read about each project, their advocates and their award recipients.
Family Strengthening Network
The Family Strengthening Network empowers families to achieve their dreams and be successful in all areas of life. Through free, personal and confidential sessions with a trained Family Advocate, families develop a clear plan to accomplish their goals and receive all the tools, resources and opportunities necessary to complete their plan. FSN offers educational seminars and small groups in a variety of areas that are critical to the wellbeing of the family. FSN also provides family fun events and community volunteering opportunities which reinforce the relationship bonds within families.
Family Strengthening Network Family Advocate of the Year: Jackie Southwick
presented by Mike Bill, Senior Pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church, Turnersville
The Family Strengthening Network has an incredibly dedicated team of family advocates who support and encourage families everyday. This year, we recognize Jackie Southwick for going above and beyond in her work to help families achieve their dreams. Jackie has served as an advocate for 3 years at St. John’s UMC assisting more than 35 families during this time. This year she expanded her territory by creating a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Gloucester County. Focusing on FSN’s financial stability goal, she facilitated an education course to 10 families and then provided the financial certification required to receive their homes. In addition, she has orchestrated community events such as the Strawberry festival and numerous relationship and healthy living workshops. Because of her efforts, families are stronger, healthier and better equipped to thrive in the future.
FSN Family Advocates:
Family Day of Service
The Family Day of Service is an annual event which promotes volunteerism and enables families to work alongside one another while giving back to their community. This year’s event saw over 2500 adults and children roll up their sleeves and serve in projects that ranged from planting flowers for a pregnancy center to groups that fought against poverty by providing food and hygiene kits. In total, 55 projects impacted our region during the weekend of service.
Family Day of Service
Outstanding Project: Clips for Seniors – Bridgeton, NJ
presented by Cumberland County Freeholder Carmen Daddario
One project, Clips for Seniors, focused on caring for seniors in the Bridgeton community. Alejandro noticed how often senior didn’t have the money or ability to go to the barber. He gather seven local barbers and hairstyles to come together to give free haircuts for the day. In total, 28 people received new styles and several commented how grateful they were to receive the first haircut they’d had in year. We would like to recognize Alejandro Ortiz and Jose Casteneda for their coordination and participation in Clips for Seniors, the Family Day of Service Outstanding Project.
CASA of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties
CASA advocates are volunteers who are appointed by judges to watch over child abuse victims. Advocates make sure that these children do not get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system and help victims find safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible. CASA advocates stay with each child until their case is closed and the child is placed in a safe and permanent home. For many victims of child abuse, their CASA advocate is the only adult with a consistent and caring presence in their lives. CASA of CGS is working to provide an advocate for every child in placement, decrease the reentry rate by collaborating with community partners who focus on the child’s family wellness, confidently provide recommendations to the court as to a child’s permanency plan, and improve every child’s educational outcomes.
Major Accomplishments for 2017
- Served 320 children
- 87 new children were received through referrals from the Court
- Maintained the Peer Coordinator Model, growing to 13 Peer Coordinators assisting and supporting new advocates
- Led 64 children to permanency
Jesse Kagan Advocate of the Year
This award was created to recognize an outstanding volunteer whose unselfish and dedicated service has made a significant difference in their community and in the lives of children. The Advocate of the Year Award was named after Gloucester County advocate, Susan Kagan’s son, Jesse, who sadly passed away at the age of 37 in March, 2016. When speaking with the Kagan’s it is clear that all of the individuals who came forward to help and advocate for Jesse made the largest impact in their lives. CASA of CGS is fueled by the very same ideals. We are full of “helpers” and feel that honoring these individuals through the memory of Jesse is a permanent tribute. Because of the connection between our helpers and the helpers in the Kagan’s lives, CASA of CGS decided to name the Advocate of the Year award after Jesse Kagan every year going forward.
Cumberland County: Eileen Daniels
Presented by Jennifer Henderson, CASA of CGS Program Director
CASA of CGS was blessed with Eileen in June, 2016. When you first meet her, you’re instantly put at ease with her kind and warm demeanor. Eileen has been professional from the start and is extremely thorough in her investigations. While she has a huge heart, she never allows her passion to cloud her judgment when advocating for her children’s best interests. Eileen is currently serving four children across three cases and has been instrumental in supporting appropriate placements, needs and therapies for the children. Her communication skills are impressive and result in cooperation and understanding across the board. She incorporates a village and that’s exactly how change will come about.
Gloucester County: Susan Kagan
Presented by Arthur Horn, CASA of CGS Board President
Susan has been an advocate since July, 2015. Alongside of her partner advocate, Susan worked hard to lead her first case with five children to adoption. She endured the difficult decision of making a recommendation for the termination of parental rights, while gracefully learning and navigating the system. After her first case closed, Susan accepted another case with three small children and has been an essential part of a reunification plan for the family. As an advocate, Susan leaves no stone unturned. She’s passionate, gifted, incredibly thorough, and born to advocate for those in need. Susan has always been extremely objective, fair and balanced while on her cases. While all of the above listed characteristics may be an overwhelming combination for some, Susan juggles everything seamlessly and professionally. Susan’s reports are thorough, detail-rich, without a doubt objective, and have often times, topped out at a whopping 14 pages. Her recommendations are unique, well-explained and supportive to CASA’s mission.
Salem County: Judy Burnett
Presented by Rev. Kevin Peterson, of Second Baptist Church in Salem
Judy has been an advocate since May, 2016. Not long after being sworn-in, she accepted a case with two little girls who had endured some pretty terrible times. One of the greatest things about Judy is that nothing concerned her about this case except worrying about making sure the girls received the best care and had what they needed to thrive. She didn’t let the fact that the mom was incarcerated and there were a lot of different parties in the case to deter her from visiting hotels, apartments and houses checking on these children. Judy molds her recommendations to the judge in such a way that you consider the children’s best interest along with her as you’re reading them. Judy never misses a deadline for her reports and, despite being a full-time teacher, tries her hardest to make every court hearing.
Eileen Goodwin Lifetime Achievement Award: Kay Delp
Presented by Bill Whelan, Vice President of Capital Bank
This award was created to recognize an outstanding volunteer whose unselfish and dedicated service has made a significant difference in their community and in the lives of children. The Eileen Goodwin Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an advocate who has displayed long-term commitment and efforts to advocate for abused and neglected children. The award was named in loving memory of Eileen in grateful appreciation for her love and dedication to CASA of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties and the children we serve.
Kay Delp has been part of the CASA of CGS team since 2012 and has been an advocate for two girls. Her first girl’s case lasted over three years and the second girl, she is currently advocating for, and has been on her case for over a year. There are six words that could be used to accurately describe Kay: Professional, Compassionate, Thorough, Dedicated, Reliable, and Amazing. There has never been a time that Kay hasn’t been looked at with complete respect in the courtroom when providing her recommendations. All of the DCP&P caseworkers and court staff who Kay has worked with over the years have reported that they enjoy working with her and trust and respect her as a person and as an advocate. For more than five years, Kay has never forgotten to send in a court report for her child or submit a monthly log. She leaves no stone unturned when researching her case and identifying the best interest of the child she is advocating for.
CASA of CGS
Angel of the Year Award: Cumberland Insurance Group
Presented by Hillary Nichols, Social Media Manager, United Advocacy Group & Founder of Operation South Jersey
The CASA of CGS Angel of the Year award recognizes an outstanding organization whose unselfish and dedicated service has made a significant difference in their community and in the lives of children. CASA volunteers are individuals who are faced with some of the most difficult decisions when making recommendations in the best interest of children. This year, Cumberland Insurance Group has made significant contributions toward promoting the best interests of abused and neglected children and providing community support for CASA of CGS and our volunteers. Cumberland Insurance Group has participated in the CASA of CGS Go Blue Campaign and Christmas Angel Tree every year for the past three years. They provided more than half of the gifts for the children that CASA serves during the holiday season and have faithfully donated toward the Go Blue Campaign.
CASA of CGS Peer Coordinators:
CASA of CGS Advocates
CASA of CGS Advocates
CASA of CGS Advocates
CASA of CGS Advocates of the Month for FY17
January: Joanna Corsino
February: Eileen Daniels
March: Susan Kagan
April: Sandy Steedle
May: Tim Zoyac
June: Gary Salber
July: Melissa Tagye
August: Brittany Hostler
September: Michele Musick
October: Ashlie Robinson
November: Danielle Bart
December: Carl Fratz
CASA of CGS Community Sponsors
Cumberland Insurance Group
Karin Wood and the Salem County Bar Association
Bethany Grace Community Church
Peace Love Yoga
Troop 51024 Daisies and Brownies
Marlboro Seventh Day Baptist Church
Teah Daniels, Interact Club Advisor at Hammonton High School
FEA Club at Salem County Vocational High School
Century Savings Bank
Gloucester County Education Association
Cumberland County Council of Educators Association
Richwood United Methodist Knit and Crochet Ministry
Mullica Hill Knit Club
Taralee O’Malley Hurff, “Alliteration Alphabet”
Unidos Para La Familia
Unidos Para La Familia exists to strengthen the immigrant, working-class population by providing training/support to parents to promote child well-being and stronger families through financial stability, improved resident status and the development of community leaders.
Major Accomplishments for FY17
- 17 students obtained their HS Diploma
- 31 Unidos family members received a job promotion, salary increase or new job through FA services
- 78 of our 87 families achieved at least one of their goals from their family action plan
- 8 families are in the process of obtaining a mortgage to own a home; 1 family has purchased a home
Manuel Alejandro Gonzalez
Claudia Salcedo Bonilla
Angelica Rios Toscano
Juan Carlos Butron
Nelly Leon Hernandez
Issa Marquina Jacobo
Unidos Para La Familia
Volunteer of the Year: Claudia Salcedo Bonilla
Presented by City of Bridgeton, Councilwoman Gladys Lugardo-Hemple
Unidos para la Familia is proud to present its “Volunteer of the Year Award” to ClaudiaSalcedo Bonilla. Claudia Salcedo Bonilla is a hardworking single mother of two, Mariana and Omar Hernandez. Her 14-year- old daughter, Mariana, is currently attending CCTECH. Her son, Omar Hernandez, is attending middle school at Fairfield Township Schools. With the help and support of her extended family, Claudia is in the process of obtaining her High School Diploma. After passing various sections of the HSE test on her way to obtain her diploma, Claudia decided that she wanted to help others who wanted to attain that same goal. She faithfully volunteers teaching reading and writing to HSE students each Wednesday night. In addition to this, she has also volunteered for our Unidos Family Fun events as a Zumba instructor and in other ways. She is truly a great example of someone who gives back to the community and shares her talents for the benefit of others. She is a great example and role model for her children and for each of us.
Thank you, Claudia, for your service and example.
Connecting Families to Communities
Connecting Families to Communities empowers Center City Millville families to achieve their dreams and be successful in all areas of life. Through free, personal, and confidential sessions with a trained advocate, families develop action plans to accomplish their goals and receive all the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary to accomplish their whole family action plan. CF2C also offers educational seminars and small groups in a variety of areas that are critical to the well-being of the family and provides family fun, community and volunteer events which reinforce the relationship bonds within families.
Carl B. File Sr.
Pride in Millville Award: Shaun Connors
Presented by Dr. Pamm Moore, Millville Public Schools
The Carl B. File Sr. Pride in Millville Award is presented to an individual who goes above and beyond in see that families in Center City Millville excel in all areas of life. Furthermore, the recipient of this award encompasses a deep-rooted interest in ensuring that the youth of Center City Millville are given the necessary tools and resources to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Shaun Connors joined the Connecting Families to Communities team as a Family Advocate in early 2016. Her site is First United Methodist Church in Millville where she is the Director of the SHINE Program. Outside of Shaun’s husband, Luis, and her daughter, Shelby, the SHINE Program and serving Center City Millville youth is her life. Shaun successfully balanced a caseload of 15 families over the last year and led each of them to tremendous whole family progress. Under her guidance, families are doing things they’ve never done before – buying their first homes; keeping a job for a full year; going to school, etc. Shaun radiates the brightest each night when the SHINE program is in full swing. Children of all ages, who might normally be caught up in risky behaviors, are able to receive tutoring, mentoring, free meals, a youth group, an arts program, summer camp, and even an opportunity at a college scholarship. The program has grown exponentially under Shaun’s leadership, now serving close to 100 children with parental involvement. The future for families in Center City Millville is bright because of the work of Shaun Connors.
Stronger Families is dedicated to empowering Greater Bridgeton Area families to flourish by providing free, confidential, and holistic family case management to the local community, including families impacted by the incarceration of a parent/caregiver at the Cumberland County Jail through the Workforce Pro program. The collaborative partners work together with whole families to develop written family action plans that address immediate needs; set long-term, measurable, self-identified goals; and track progress towards behavioral outcomes and goal achievement.
Stronger Families provides support to families by holding office hours at the Alms Center, at the Bridgeton Family Success Center, and by meeting with families at convenient locations throughout the community. Stronger Families also engages with families at the Cumberland County Jail, including through contact visits organized for the purpose of family coaching and family nights to promote bonding. Participants partake in a full life skills curriculum through the Workforce Pro program prior release into the community.
Brandie Slattery (Workforce Pro)
Tiliya Riley (Workforce Pro)
Cindy Bullock (Workforce Pro)
Luz Cubi (Workforce Pro)
Community Legacy Award: John Fuqua
presented by City of Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly
John Fuqua is a graduate of Bridgeton High School class of 96′. He also graduated from William Paterson University class of 2001 with a degree in English Lit. He is the Vice-President of Steered Straight Inc. and an active member of Brothers for Awareness. John has over 20 years of experience working in the field of education and social services. John is the Director of several youth basketball programs and a proud member of Cumberland County Positive Youth Coalition. John is a great husband, proud father and grandfather. Through his work, he is dedicated to making a positive impact on the world through action.
Through Temple Vision Stronger Families, he has invigorated the youth and community programs, as well as the Stronger Fathers group, and has greatly exceeded expectations by expanding outreach to local youth and their families.
First Star Rowan Academy
The South Jersey First Star Collaborative serves around 45 families of students participating in the First Star Academies at both Rowan University and Rutgers University – Camden. The Academy is a 4-year college preparatory programs for high school foster youth that shows them that they belong on a college campus and provides them with the resources and tools to help them achieve there. Youth live on a college campus each summer throughout high school and return 1-2 days each month throughout the school year. The university becomes a second home that inspires and empowers them while the cohort becomes a second family.. Each Academy keeps youth on track for academic success, equips them with life skills needed for adulthood, trains them to advocate for themselves and others, and provides familial relationships that will last through adulthood.
First Star Mentors:
First Star Family Advocates and Summer Coordinators:
Youth Empowerment Award: Linnea Luzzo
presented by Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez, President, Cumberland County College
The First Star Youth Empowerment Award goes to an individual who strives to see our young people fulfill their full potential and empower them to share their unique gifts with the world. Linnea serves as this kind of mentor. An instrumental part of the First Star team since day one, she is a servant leader who does immeasurably more than one can imagine. Besides helping with the fundraising efforts, she helps to coordinate major events for the students such as our Family Day of Service, Saturday session meals, and purchasing supplies for the summer residency. Her greatest contribution, however, has been the investment she has made in a few of our students who need her love. She visits them, takes them out to eat, goes to movies and to concerts. She does whatever it takes to make our students feel like part of this family. While most of her efforts appear to go unnoticed, she is without a doubt a person who continues to make things happen for our students and their families. The contribution she makes to First Star is life-changing. Thank you, Linnea Luzzo, for your service to our students and your commitment to the First Star program.
Give Something Back Foundation
Give Something Back is a mentor and scholarship program dedicated to helping Pell-eligible students with goals of graduating in four years and debt-free. The program currently has over 50 scholars in the Cumberland County area with more students being accepted every year. Give Back currently operates in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, California, and Illinois.
Give Something Back Mentors
Mary Beth Galex
Special Recognition to Project Sponsors:
We appreciate your desire to partner with us to serve children and families in our area and to be a voice together for their best interests.
- Pascale Sykes Foundation
- Gloucester County Education Association
- Cumberland County Council of Educators Association
- Century Savings Bank
- US Silica
- Holman Auto Group
- Allen Associates