ROXBURY, NJ – The director of social services in Roxbury made an impassioned plea for help on Wednesday after learning she has “absolutely zero funds” in her public assistance account.
Social services director Janet Wald said assistance given in December to distraught people in Roxbury, including a number who have no place to live, depleted the money. Roxbury Social Services is the first place many needy people go for help and it tries to provide temporary assistance with food, supplies, utilities and housing, Wald said.
Although the Roxbury Food Pantry is doing OK, Roxbury Social Services also needs money to help the less fortunate get on their feet. But the agency is flat broke and facing an "emergency," Wald said.
“I have no money to put people in hotels,” she said. “I can’t help the homeless people. I can’t help people with heating oil. I have no money to help them pay for their electric bill. I am in dire need of money.”
Wald, whose position is part-time, said she was so overwhelmed with requests for help, which began to pour in after Thanksgiving, she didn’t have time to check with town hall to monitor the social services fund balance. Today, she learned the coffer was empty.
“I don’t get to look at the finances,” Wald explained. “I don’t have a direct line to look at the finances. During the month of December, I was writing out purchase orders for the homeless people. In December alone, I probably went up to $4,000 just giving shelter to homeless people.”
Among the cases she had to handle was a homeless woman living in the woods near St. Therese Catholic Church in Succasunna, Wald said.
“She came to me right around Thanksgiving time and she’d been living in a tent for six months right here in town,” Wald said. “She’s a recovering alcoholic. Somebody got her to come to me. I put her up in a hotel, and gave her food. She had one pair of underwear.”
Wald said the effort seems to have turned around the woman’s life. “She came in a week later looking like a totally different person,” Wald said. “She was so revived and so thankful. She was kissing and hugging us and she said, ‘I would have been dead if it wasn’t for you guys here.’”
Wald spent hours on Wednesday reaching out for donations. “I’m tapped out,” she stressed. “I’m on the phone now, calling all the churches and organizations in town.”
Anyone interested in making a donation can write a check to Roxbury Social Services and either mail it to 72 Eyland Avenue in Succasunna, bring it to the Social Service office between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or drop it off at town hall on Route 46 in Ledgewood, Wald said.