EAST ORANGE, NJ – In the spirit of family and giving, Ray Jay Portraits is hosting family photo sessions and donating a portion of the proceeds to benefit homeless youth living at Sierra House.

Sierra House is a nonprofit organization committed to serving homeless young women 18 to 25 years old and their babies. Each year there are thousands of homeless children and youth living in America.  On January 30, 2014, the New Jersey Point in Time Count of the Homeless Data Report found there to be 18,818 homeless men, women, and children in the state of New Jersey. Over the course of the year, this number is estimated to rise to 25,612. Women account for nearly 42% of the homeless population and it is believed that about one-third of the homeless population are youths.

Essex County, where Sierra House is located, has the highest number of homeless people, accounting for 14.7% of the statewide homeless population the night of the count, up from 13% in 2012.

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“We want to raise awareness and help raise money to reduce homelessness here in the state of New Jersey. Homelessness among youth is a taboo subject and we want to bring the issue to light because it's often not what you think," said the CEO of Ray Jay Portraits, Christen Simmons. Christen first learned of the Sierra House from receiving a volunteer opportunity, where she provided makeup and skin care services for a Sierra House Resident Makeover Day. Christen said, "I was so impressed with the house and the way it is run that I had to do more. Above all the ladies are so appreciative of everything that I am happy to do anything I can to help."

Studies show that a child who is homeless has a 30% chance of becoming homeless as an adult. “We want to put these statistics to an end,” said the Executive Director of Sierra House, Keely Freeman. You can contribute to these efforts by registering for a photo session. To register, please contact Ray Jay Portraits by calling (973) 723-4946. Photo Sessions will be held on November 1st and 2nd at Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ. The cost of the session is only $150 and includes pdf files.

ABOUT SIERRA HOUSE

Founded in 2002, the mission of Sierra House is to improve the prospects for individual achievement for at-risk youth and young adults. In 2008, Sierra House opened its transitional shelter in East Orange, New Jersey. The Sierra House Transitional Program is a structured two-year program that provides housing, counseling, and other critical social services to homeless young women and mothers, between the ages of 18 and 25, who are victims of abuse or neglect, or are aging out of the foster care system. For more information, visit our website: www.sierrahouse.org

Sierra House has earned the Guide Star Exchange Seal, which demonstrates its commitment to transparency, and has been selected a Top-Rated Nonprofit by Great Non-Profits.