COLTS NECK, N.J. -  At the recent Colts Neck Business Association Meeting, Chief Executive Officer of Preferred Behavioral Health Group (PBHG) and former NJ Assemblywoman, Mary Pat Angelini addressed the group of business owners and community leaders on the topic of the natural fit for businesses to connect regularly with nonprofit organizations. Businesses were interested in hearing what she had to say.

According to Angelini, “If you look at the state of NJ, there are over 300,000 employees working in nonprofit, that’s 10 percent of the private workforce across the state, so many businesses regularly interchange with many of those employees.  It’s a two way street and we that are on the nonprofit side are always… looking for volunteers and board members… and we are always looking for ways to involve the communities we serve.”  PBHG is currently headquartered in Ocean County and is a $24 million a year nonprofit organization with 400 plus employees, serving over 10,000 clients annually. In the next couple months PBHG is expanding outpatient programs into Monmouth County beginning with their Center for Children and Families program and their Substance Abuse Services. Angelini says, “We founded our Center for Children and Families in January 2016 to provide services to children in K-12. We began with 30 children and now that number has grown to over 700. There is such a great need in our communities, and we look forward to expanding into Monmouth County in the next couple months.”  

Prior to her current position as CEO at PBHG, Mary Pat Angelini was the Executive Director of Prevention First for nearly 20 years. Prevention First, founded in 1980 (now an affiliate of PBHG since 2013) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing teen drug use before it starts.  PBHG is actually the convergence of three nonprofits: Preferred Behavioral Health of NJ, Prevention First and Preferred Children’s Services. Having the three under one umbrella with PBHG providing the administrative and operational oversight provides seamless services and eliminates duplication and overlapping. That translates to efficiency and higher levels of service for the clients served.

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Regarding the concept of creating a new charity, Angelini suggests instead of recreating the wheel and starting from scratch, one should join forces with a nonprofit that is already established. Angelini encourages researching the charity by using informational resources such as http://charitynavigator.org or http://guidestar.org  before you make your final decisions. This will help you fully look at exactly where the monies are going from the nonprofit you may be interested in partnering with or donating to.  She mentioned that even the United Way of Monmouth has now joined forces with Ocean and they are now operating under United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  “There are so many existing charities for businesses to get involved with from the Arts Councils to the Food Banks. A great example is The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties now renamed Fulfill,” says Angelini.  Working closely with over 300 food pantries and soup kitchens Fulfill is not only feeding the hungry, but now providing services to help assist those individuals to get back on their feet again and become self-sufficient. For more information you can visit http://fulfillnj.org

For Mary Pat Angelini, service to others comes naturally. From January 2008 to January 2016 Angelini, representing the 11th district (which includes Colts Neck), served in the NJ Assembly on the Human Services Committee and the Health and Senior Services Committee. Her legislative record represents her passion to proactively serve as an advocate for many of today’s critical social issues such as suicide, bullying and substance abuse.   She sponsored legislation to establish an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights in New Jersey, and it was signed by NJ Governor Christie in early 2011.  The law encourages school districts to better investigate reports of bullying.

With regard to the suicide crisis (Monmouth County has the highest suicide rates in the state) Angelini states that suicides in many cases are the result of social isolation and this is something that businesses can try to combat by providing socialization opportunities within the workplace and the community.  With opioids currently killing 90 Americans a day, Angelini is currently working with Governor Christie to provide valuable input for the Governor’s special task force to combat the national health crisis of drug abuse.  With regard to the substance abuse crisis Angelini states, “It is absolutely heartbreaking…a National health crisis that is in need of a consistent and continuous effective prevention message.”  Angelini concluded her visit with the CNBA by mentioning that there are so many resources available to assist in providing educational tools and speakers to address the tough social issues businesses and communities face today and the more we address the issues and talk about them the more we can help eliminate them.  CNBA President Sue Fitzpatrick comments, “ I have known Mary Pat for many years and have seen her ideas become a work in action. We are so thankful to have her speak with us today about the importance of businesses aligning with nonprofits. Mary Pat is an example of a true leader, someone who has the vision to identify the critical social issues and then work tirelessly to prevent them, a true public servant.  We are thrilled that the services she successfully leads in Ocean County via PBHG is now expanding into Monmouth.”  

For more information about PBHG you can visit preferredbehavioral.org For more information about the Colts Neck Business Association and to find out about their next event you can visit coltsneckbusiness.org