|Many of us value the wonderful work being done here in Mercer County by HomeFront, the organization helping homeless families break the cycle of poverty.
Last week, during this time of tremendous economic distress and in the midst of a pandemic, HomeFront offered us an antidote – daily events, volunteer opportunities, and ways of connecting with our neighbors during its annual “Week of Hope.”
Those of us who took part learned about the daunting challenges facing so many families, and about the resulting increase in hunger and homelessness in every community in our county, from Trenton to Hamilton to Princeton. We know how expensive housing is in our region— a person earning the minimum wage has to work almost three full-time jobs to be able to afford the average two-bedroom rental in New Jersey. This is difficult enough, but the pandemic has erased so many job opportunities, leaving families stranded and facing the loss of their housing.
However, we also learned about the efforts of HomeFront and other nonprofits which are working cooperatively to make sure as many families as possible can overcome hunger, homelessness, and other life-altering barriers. I was fortunate to take part in the panel on Homelessness and Hunger During COVID, along with Connie Mercer, HomeFront’s visionary founder and CEO; Bernie Flynn, CEO of Mercer Street Friends; Emily Lemmerman of the Princeton Eviction Lab; and Sarah Steward, HomeFront’s COO. During the panel, Sarah suggested that each of us tell 10 of our friends, “Did you know that there is hunger in our community, and that there is something we can do about it?”
The Princeton Public Library sponsored and recorded this discussion, which is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=daYcQaMohd8
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Week of Hope. We heard such inspiring stories about those working every day to transform lives, and about the strength of the families whom they help. I urge all of us to listen to the panelists’ advice – support these vital nonprofit organizations; donate to them if we are able to do so; and, most importantly, use our voices to amplify their efforts. Only in this way can we, as one community, help families overcome the terrible obstacles that they are facing and instead create lives of hope.