Poverty, homelessness, power of resilience

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Homefront’s annual Women’s Initiative reception will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author Andrea Elliott

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Andrea Elliott will share the story of Dasani Sykes and her mother, Chanel Sykes, and the need to help keep poor families intact, at HomeFront’s annual Women’s Initiative reception April 27.

Elliott will be joined onstage by Chanel Sykes at the event, which will be held at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village in Plainsboro Township. The reception starts at 4:30 p.m.

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HomeFront, which is based in Lawrence Township, helps the homeless and the working poor.

Elliott is the author of The Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City. The book grew out of a series of articles in The New York Times that began as an investigation into the conditions inside a New York City homeless shelter in 2013.

Elliott, who is an investigative reporter for The New York Times, soon focused on Dasani Sykes. She became the focal point of the articles. Elliott decided to follow Dasani Sykes for the next eight years, resulting in The Invisible Child.

The book earned Elliott a Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction in 2022. It represents the accumulation of her decade-long investigation reporting on poverty, homelessness and the power of resilience.

HomeFront’s Women’s Initiative was founded nearly 15 years ago with the goal of mobilizing a cadre of 1,000 women who would lend their expertise and support to help end homelessness in Mercer County.

Each member donates $100 annually with the goal of contributing a collective $100,000 toward HomeFront services that need support due to increased need and unbudgeted expenses, HomeFront officials said.

“This special night will remind us of the power of community to inspire change,” Sarah Steward, HomeFront’s CEO, said of the April 27 reception.

“It is the change that Andrea and Chanel have created through the power of their story and words, and the change that we can create together to build a world where all families can succeed,” Steward said.

The April 27 reception will benefit HomeFront’s work to address basic needs through its Resource Network. It has been an exceptionally hard year for many families because of inflation and significant increases in rent, officials said.

HomeFront is welcoming nearly 1,800 households every month to its food pantries for groceries, period products and baby formula, officials said.

HomeFront distributed more than 146,000 diapers and wipes in March, which is an 87% increase over the same time in 2022. Officials expect to distribute more than two million diapers and wipes to local families this year.

Tickets to the Women’s Initiative reception range from $200 to $300. Tickets include dinner and a copy of Elliott’s book. Scholarships are available, also.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call 609-989-9417, ext. 107 or visit www.homefrontnj.org.

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