ELIZABETH, NJ – Jefferson Park Ministries opened the doors of its new headquarters at 70 West Grand Street, Jan. 26, with a ribbon-cutting.
Founded in 2002, the faith-based non-profit’s mission states that it “serves immigrant families and youth by providing services that enhances their quality of life.” One of its programs is the Jefferson Park Family Success Center that offers a variety of programs focused on strengthening families. “It is a place where anyone can come and receive services,” said Woody Philippe, the newly appointed executive director. The Center offers family counseling, financial literary courses, social skills workshops, among others.
JPM also runs a Foster Grandparents program where volunteers, who are paid a stipend, are placed in daycare centers, after school programs, and developmental care facilities to work with children. Under the direction of manager Yvenie Moncilus, the program also hosts social events where the foster grandparents can mingle. “It is a chance for grandparents to be active,” said Philippe. “Sometimes seniors become homebound. When they were in Haiti, they were doing things that they aren’t able to do here. They don’t like that, so this is an opportunity to interact with other people.”
An After School Program aims to strengthen skills and to give children confidence. JPM is currently looking for funding for a summer program.
Finally, the non-profit offers Immigration Services where staff members help immigrants fill out forms and documents. Philippe reported that they have a staff member certified to help with these documents. The center is hosting an Immigration Forum on Wednesday, February 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Today’s ribbon-cutting attracted a number of elected officials who voiced their disagreement with the Trump Administration stance on immigration and pledged their support of the immigrant community. Freeholder Mohammad Jalloh said, “I am telling you that there are people on the Freeholder Board, people on City Council, people on the Board of Education who reject those policies and will continue to fight for you.”
Calling Trump, “Not my president,” Councilman William Gallman criticized him for “what he is trying to do our people who are immigrants. We have to stand tall.”
Fellow Councilman Manny Grova, the son of immigrants, said, “Our country is made of immigrants. We made the city our city regardless of where we came from. This is our city, our country. He has forgotten that.”