Lunch Break and Family Promise of Monmouth County announce merger

RED BANK – Addressing the problem of homelessness in Monmouth County has long been on Lunch Break’s radar. Community members without adequate housing have sought the resource center’s help with life’s basic necessities, among them, shelter.

Having partnered in the past with Family Promise of Monmouth County, a nonprofit organization in Oceanport providing family services, assistance and temporary housing to individuals struggling with financial insecurity, Lunch Break’s directors saw an opportunity to merge the two complementary organizations as an avenue to offering families and individuals in desperate situations a way off the streets and a temporary place to call home, according to a press release.

As a result, Lunch Break, the social service resource center at 121 Drs James Parker Blvd., Red Bank, has welcomed Family Promise into its network of programs.

In a collaborative effort, Lunch Break and Family Promise are coordinating resources to assist local communities to address the root causes of family homelessness, according to the press release.

Through prevention services before families reach crisis, shelter and case management should they become homeless, and stabilization programs once they have secured housing, Family Promise, under the Lunch Break umbrella, will ensure families remain independent, empowering them toward economic stability, according to the press release.

“We knew this was the right time to bring the two organizations together,” Lunch Break Executive Director Gwendolyn Love said. “So many of the people we encounter need an escape from the heat and cold; somewhere they can shower and sleep. They are alone and, often, forgotten on the streets. It’s heartbreaking.”

“Lunch Break wants to restore our community members’ dignity (and) safeguard their well-being so they will eventually take the next step toward self-sufficiency and building generational equity,” Lunch Break Board President Philip Antoon said. “Lunch Break and Family Promise are very much aligned in this mission.”

Love saw the opportunity to combine organizations as “completely making sense,” since both were sharing resources and clients, offering them access to a range of food and clothing services, as well as  financial and employment skills counseling.

“Over the past two years, Family Promise has seen a dramatic increase in need among the most vulnerable families in our community, coupled with a more challenging and complicated service model,” Family Promise Board President Jessica Stepanski said.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this team of innovators who identified an opportunity to more efficiently and effectively serve our community by reducing duplication of services and sharing resources. Together, we are better and stronger,” she said.

Lunch Break, in its 39th year, is planning to expand its facility to accommodate future growth in programs and services, according to the press release.

Family Promise was established 20 years ago as a local response to family housing and financial crises in Monmouth County. Now, it has grown to more than 500 volunteers, according to the press release.

Family Promise of Monmouth County Program Director Lenore Gibson also sees the merger as a big win for the community.

“Getting a family stable and back on their feet is not easy. It involves networking of several agencies to pull services together. With Family Promise merging with Lunch Break, it will allow us to have more access to meals, clothing, financial literacy programs, food and many other programs,” Gibson said.

In addition to services provided by Family Promise, Lunch Break will continue to offer clients meal service and groceries, clothing, life skills training, and English as a Second Language classes and mentoring sessions for adults and school-age children, free of charge, according to the press release.

Lunch Break freely provides food, clothing, social services, fellowship and life skills to individuals who are struggling with financial insecurity as a path to well-being and self-sufficiency, according to the press release.