EAST ORANGE, NJ – Homelessness is a problem plaguing the United States - striking Americans of every age, ethnicity, and religion, hitting urban and rural communities alike. Homeless individuals face a myriad of problems such as being prone to diseases for lack of shelter, lack of constant supply of food, and many of the minimal needs required constantly by the average person.

But some of their basic needs were provided on Saturday, June 3 when Rev. Dwight D. Gill, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, and its members visited several locations including Catholic Charities, Covenant House, St. John’s Soup Kitchen, Newark Penn Station and YMCA of Newark to give 500 backpacks filled with personal care items, first-aid supplies and non-perishable food directly to the men and women as part of the church’s We’ve Got Your Back, “Pack” initiative. 

Homelessness results from a complex set of circumstances - ranging from financial instability to substance abuse, from unemployment to family crises, and more - that require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs. “Many of these individuals have no place to keep their basic belongings.  We have custom-designed the backpacks to provide a safe, secure, and convenient way for them to transport belongings,” said Rev. Gill. 

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According to a 2016 report from Monarch Housing Associates, there were 1,779 homeless people in Essex County (see full report, New Jersey Point in Time Count of the Homeless, at www.monarchhousing.org).  “We understand and definitely do not pretend that this initiative is any sort of solution to the difficult issue of homelessness, but it’s something that demonstrates what we as neighbors can do to make a small difference in the lives of those who are experiencing difficult times,” explained Rev. Gill.

Members of the church have actively supported the program and donated the money to help cover the cost of the backpacks and supplies. “Christians believe that what happens to any of us affects all of us. Our love is unconditional and our mission is to help…all in keeping with the spiritual doctrine of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ so they will not feel hopeless, but hopeful,” commented Rev. Gill.  

About New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange:

New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, which has a rich history and nearly 2,000 members, has been serving the spiritual and social needs of the community for many years.  The church provides numerous Christian education programs and community outreach initiatives offering such as a Food Pantry Program and programs for Youth, Seniors, Women and Health.