PATERSON, NJ – As COVID-19 continues to spread across New Jersey, Patreson’s non-profit community is working to provide assistance for residents in need.
As of Wednesday, there were 10 cases of coronavirus in Passaic County, at least 267 in New Jersey and three fatalities related to the virus, according to the state health department. Paterson's local case involves two parents and their 5-year-old child, Mayor Andre Sayegh has announced.
In hopes of curbing the outbreak, several statewide restrictions are in place, including a curfew and the shutdown of schools, gyms, casinos and dine-in restaurant services. State officials are also advising people to practice social distancing and stay home if they don’t feel well.
While life in New Jersey has come to a near halt, several local non-profits have vowed to continue fulfilling their missions to help the underserved.
However, organizations said some offerings have been temporarily suspended while they focus on providing essential services, such as serving meals to the homeless and operating halfway houses.
Bob Guarasci, founder and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC), said in a recent update, “Like every other company and organization throughout the nation, this crisis is affecting us and those we serve. Our challenge is to continue serving those who rely on us for basic human needs, while ensuring everyone’s well-being.”
In a message on Monday, Guarasci said his Paterson-based non-profit will continue operating its residential programs for those with developmental disabilities or have a mental illness, or who are homeless or aging-out youth.
At its housing sites, which are located in and around the city, he said staffers have been working to make sure there is food and medication reserves for residents and getting the facilities cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis.
However, NJCDC’s Community Charter School, which enrolls about 900 K-8 students, will be shut until at least April 1. And with many of the non-profit’s youth programs run out of Paterson’s public schools, those offerings are suspended since public schools have been ordered closed.
The neighborhood help center, a resource for Great Falls Promise neighborhood residents, is also closed, along with NJCDC’s youth center and Paterson Youth Council program.
Guarasci said, “In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, nothing is normal and little seems certain. But there is one constant that I am grateful for – and that is the love and support of our donors, funders, friends and volunteers. During this difficult time, we ask for your continued support – and your prayers – as we work as hard as we can to move through this time of great uncertainty.”
4CS of Passaic County has temporarily suspended walk-ins as of Tuesday, according to an update on the organization’s Facebook page. The non-profit, which works to link underprivileged families with childcare and education, said it will be accessible by phone or email for caregivers and applicants.
“We apologize for any inconvenience, but as we mentioned before your family’s health and safety as well as that of the staff, and community is a priority. Therefore, it was necessary to take these precautionary measures,” 4CS wrote.
Documents can be submitted by fax, mail, email or in 4CS’ third floor mailbox, the post said.
Paterson-based Eva’s Village said it’ll continue operating its halfway houses and shelters, as well as outreach programs for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
In lieu of the state’s call to limit group gatherings and practice social distancing, the non-profit has suspended outpatient services and on-site programs at its Recovery Community Center. But, counselors and peer recovery mentors will still be available by phone to clients. Eva’s Village has also set up a hotline for those seeking recovery support.
The hotline can be reached at 973-754-6784, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The organization’s “Community Kitchen” will continue providing meals,but has suspended its sit-down offering. Starting Tuesday, meals will be distributed on a “to go” basis at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Extra meals will be given on Fridays to help people get through the weekend.
The kitchen’s director, Dave Bein, said, “These are unprecedented and uncharted waters that we’re going into. We’re doing our best to continually provide service to those people who depend on us every day for meals. We’ve spoken with our food vendors, and at this moment we have a good supply of the foods we need. We don’t have the shortages that some people are seeing with retail purchasing.”
Eva’s Village serves breakfast and lunch to nearly 400 people daily. The kitchen also prepares meals for the 350 men, women and mothers with children who reside in recovery and sheltering programs, amounting to 1,300 meals each day, according to the organization’s website.
Dan Renaldo, the non-profit’s chief executive officer, said, “These decisions are far from easy, but we do believe they are necessary. We hope to resume normal operations as soon as possible, but as we all know, this situation is constantly evolving. We will continue to closely monitor the guidance and recommendations being provided from the CDC and other officials, and we are coordinating with Mayor Sayegh and his team in the City of Paterson, as well as our County and State partners and our nonprofit partners throughout the community.”
He added, “We look forward to the day when our Village returns to its usual bustling activity; but until then, we are focused on caring for and protecting our residents, while keeping the most vital services available to our community members.”
Oasis – A Haven for Women and Children has temporarily suspended all its education and vocational training programs Additionally, in an effort to continue meeting the urgent needs of low-income families they have temporarily transitioned to “grab and go” meals and will provide other basic needs services as follows:
From Tuesday, 3/17 through Friday 3/20, Oasis will offer "grab and go" meals daily from 12 noon until 1 pm. During this period Oasis will be open from 10 am until 2 pm each day, providing social services such as food pantry items, diapers, emergency supplies, and other needs.
Starting Monday, 3/23, Oasis will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only. "Grab and go" meals will be available from 12 noon until 1 pm and other social services (as above) will be freely available from 10 am until 2 pm.
Serving over 1,000 women and children in their Mill Street headquarter daily, Oasis will also continue to accept donations of shelf-stable foods (canned goods, cereals, etc.) and cash gifts to continue operations during this challenging time.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.