NORTH JERSEY — A social services nonprofit based in the Garden State that has come to the aid of more than 4,000 people across 11 counties to better their lives — from traumatized youth, to individuals suffering from addiction and mental health issues to veterans — needs your help in raising much-needed funds to sustain its programming during the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

Family Connections, based in East Orange, is holding a Roll and Stroll for Hope fundraiser on Saturday, August 22. Members of the public — young and old — are being asked to take up their favorite activity — running, biking, skating or strolling — for one mile to raise funds to support their mission. Depending on your level of fitness, entrants can increase their distance and run, roll or stroll for three miles while supporting an organization in the local community who rely on Family Connections. The suggested entry donation begins at $50, however, entrants may donate as much as they can afford. 

Through a robust cultural competence program, Family Connections has a myriad of services to help people of all ages overcome struggles with an assortment of specialized programming. The nonprofit partners with the state government to pilot innovative new services, build and share solutions that help address and solve social ills around the country in addition to presenting their findings at nationwide conferences.  

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For youths who are victims of trauma, staff members — who pride themselves on embracing diversity and inclusion — engage children in results-driven strategies like creative arts and play therapies to help their developing brains to heal and learn productive ways to react to stress. The goal is for these children to go on and succeed in school and avoid possible negative consequences if left untreated, like substance abuse and crime later on in their development.  

For children who are in foster care, Family Connections supervises weekly therapeutic family visitations to strengthen family bonds and counsel parents and children. For people suffering from mental health issues and addiction, Family Connections — which is one of two training centers in New Jersey that is funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services — provides a range of programs from individual and family therapy, creative arts therapies, and mindfulness meditation.  

While the nonprofit’s outpatient mental health and substance abuse services are provided out of their offices in Essex County, Family Connections provides three services to Bergen County. These include supportive visitation services, which works with families who are involved with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency whose children are in foster placement; Keeping Families Together, which works with homeless families who are involved with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency whose children are in foster placement. (This program was the first in New Jersey to work with the family to secure housing and provide all the needed resources to remain stable). Finally, Culture Connections provides cultural competence training, support, and consultation to other agencies licensed to provide mental health and/or substance use treatment services. 

On the day of Roll and Stroll for Hope, entrants may choose when they wish to participate and their local route, and post their undertaking on social media and tag @familyconnectionsnj using the hashtag #RollandStrollforHope. A rain date is planned for August 23.  

Currently, a GoFundMe Campaign has been launched to raise its goal of $10,000. As of Monday, the nonprofit was just under its half-way mark towards its goal. 

To join the Roll and Stroll for Hope campaign or to make a donation, go to https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/familyconnectionsnj. For more on Family Connections, visit familyconnectionsnj.org