"I would not change one second of our lives.  Quite frankly, I would do it a million times over just to experience the love that we shared. Although the road wasn't easy I got through it because of my faith and my foundation..." Marybeth Walz Pritzlaff

 

MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ:  On Tuesday, February 12th at 8a.m. it was cold outside and the weather reports were calling for snow. Many schools cancelled or delayed classes. The weather however did not stop supporters of Collier Youth Services from filling the Buona Sera Palazzo in Ocean Township.  They came to share in the Hearts of Hope Breakfast, raising funds for the Collier Residential Program, and they came to hear from inspirational speaker, Marybeth Walz Pritzlaff.

Executive Director of Collier Youth Services Sr. Debbie Drago welcomed everyone and thanked all for coming. She gave a brief overview of Collier Youth Services (outlined later in this article), and mentioned the mission of Collier Youth Services and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd who have been running Collier since 1927.

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Sr. Debbie mentioned the mantra of the Good Shepherd that is shared at Collier, "One person is of more value than the world." It is that belief that ensures that every child that walks through the Collier doors is greeted with love and respect. They are nurtured and given a foundation that may not exist otherwise.  

The keynote speaker for the Hearts of Hope Breakfast, Marybeth Walz Pritzlaff, grew up in Middletown, NJ. She opened up her speech talking about her foundation; a strong family and friend base that she is eternally thankful for.

Marybeth is the co-founder of Hope For Children Foundation, an organization that has raised over $3 million to assist children and families in need of assistance in Monmouth County.  She has helped countless families in Monmouth County and is the type of person who as the cliche goes truly would 'give you the shirt off her back'.

Always giving of her time and resources to everyone that she can help, Marybeth herself went through and continues to work through an unimaginable journey of loss. She shared her personal story with the Collier supporters at the breakfast, and drew audible crying, there was barely a dry eye in the room.  

Listen to Marybeth's powerful speech here in the video below:

VIDEO: Marybeth Walz Pritzlaff, with superhuman strength shares her journey of faith. There really are no words to describe Marybeth's loss or her enduring strength...

Marybeth lives in Colts Neck with her husband Ode and their young daughter. If you would like to send Marybeth Walz a private message you can email her directly here.  

The Hearts of Hope Breakfast was sponsored by New Jersey Natural Gas, Tiffany Salerno, Mary Portway and A+ Letter Service. 

More information about Collier Youth Services: 

 “For over 91 years Collier Youth Services has been providing unique and dynamic programs that assist young people and their families to build the necessary skills and tools to overcome adversity, heal from past trauma, and grow toward their potential in an environment that promotes belonging, dignity and hope.”  Collier Youth Services

Collier Youth Services umbrella has 3 major programs:

1)  The Collier Group Home and Residential Program which addresses the immediate needs for a safe home for young women who have survived trauma, abuse or neglect.  

2) Collier Schools; Private, state approved nonprofit coed Middle and High Schools, servicing 225 students.

3) The Collier Summer Camp; Kateri Day Camp, providing over 230 economically disadvantaged youths from 25 Monmouth County towns with a safe, free, full day, fun summer camp experience. 

Collier Residential Homes launched their first off campus group home in 1973 in Red Bank.  A 10-bedroom house open to girls 13-18. The group home facilitates an environment to gain skills necessary to achieve independent living and a healthy family lifestyle. The girls all attend the public high schools in Red Bank, and perform volunteer work in the community as well as hold part time jobs when they are old enough to. The social workers who live with the girls create a loving supportive, family environment in the Red Bank home and in the Keyport home opened in 2007, a 5 bedroom home for young women ages 16-21, supporting their growth towards independent living. These girls are in school and working to save money for their future. Counseling services are provided, and life skills training is a constant, creating a family environment. The residential homes are in Red Bank and Keyport where young women are nurtured with love, support and assistance from the social workers who live with them and the girls they live with. For many it is the first time they have experienced a family setting. According to Collier, ‘Nearly 400,000 youth in the USA live without permanent families and emancipated foster youth experience post traumatic stress disorder at a rate 2 times the level of war veterans.’ Collier is doing their part to help this national crisis, providing in-depth counseling services and life skills training with the goal of reuniting the girls with their families if they exist, or transitioning them successfully to independent living. Maria, a former Collier Resident who is now in college and has a family of her own says, “Collier Residential Homes saved my life. I felt truly loved for the first time, for the first time I learned what family was all about. I will always be thankful to my Collier family. I learned how to celebrate Christmas with them and now I carry on those same traditions with my son.”

See video here for Collier Residential Programs:

 

 

Collier Middle and High Schools are for children whose needs cannot be met within their own public school district. Combined with a strong counseling component, students are prepared for college, technical or vocational schools, and full- time employment. According to Collier’s annual report, 88 percent of the 2017 graduating class of Collier High School went on to continue their education at 2-4 year colleges or trade schools, and 85 NJ school districts send students to Collier High School and Middle School. Opened in 1977 currently 154 students in grades 9-12 attend the high school from 59 NJ School Districts. The Collier Middle School opened in 2011 to encourage students grades 5-8 to become their best selves through quality education and therapeutic support has 60 students ages 10-15 from 32 NJ School Districts. 

TAPinto last year spoke to a grandmother of one of the Collier High School Grads who said, “The Collier High School in my opinion saved my grandson’s life. He was severely depressed in his high school situation and just couldn’t fit in. He was bullied. Collier nurtured and accepted him, and he thrived. He graduated from a four-year college and now is living a happy healthy normal life, working full time to support his growing family. Our family is forever grateful to Collier Youth Services.” 

Collier Kateri Day Camp: Here is a fast fact-‘low income students lose 2-3 months of reading skills over the summer while higher income youth make gains.’  Collier is addressing that disparity. The Katari campers start by being picked up by buses in their neighborhoods some as far as Bradley Beach and bussed to the 260- acre beautiful campus with endless activities including swimming lessons, crafts, sports activities, academic tutoring, delicious breakfast, lunch and snacks (it’s not unusual for some of the children to squirrel food away for themselves for later or for a sibling.  Many come without shoes that fit and don’t own a bathing suit…).  Kateri Day Camp provides 200 children with an amazing summer camp experience in a safe and loving environment. 

The Collier administration, teachers, counselors and volunteers together care for and nurture the whole child. Investments from those who donate to Collier, enable Collier to continue uplifting vulnerable children and teenagers from Monmouth County and across New Jersey.”  

For nearly 100 years Collier has been the place where small miracles happen every day. 

To speak to a Collier representative call 732.946.4771 You can mail a donation check to Collier Youth Services, Atten: Development Office, Post Office Box 300, Wickatunk, NJ 07765

All photos and videos were used with permission from Collier Youth Services.