SUMMIT, NJ - Bridges Outreach, Inc. Executive Director Lois Bhatt and Deputy Executive Director Bethany Tulloch have announced their retirement and, effective May 29, Richard J. Uniacke will begin his tenure as the Summit-based nonprofit's new Executive Director.
Uniacke, who will become just the organization's third executive director in three decades, was hired following an extensive search, and previously served as the Vice President for the Southern Branch of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
In his role at the CFBNJ, Uniacke focused on providing food-insecure neighbors with nutrient-rich food resources, as well as identifying innovative partnerships and approaches to ending hunger in South Jersey. His hyper-local focus on both the root causes of hunger and the unique needs of communities in South Jersey enabled significant growth in food distribution to partners in South Jersey, increased fundraising revenue by more than 20% in two years, and established strategic partnerships to provide community-wide change throughout the region.
Earlier in his 17-year career with the FoodBank, he served as Director of Marketing, during which time he launched online fundraising and cause marketing initiatives, and founded the Kids Division, providing food, clothing & school supplies to families in need.
“Richard brings experience and a proven track record of success in working with vulnerable populations, which will be invaluable in keeping with our mission of compassion," said Coleen McCaffery, Co-Chair of the Bridges Board of Trustees. "We are confident that Richard will be an excellent match for this position and a strong asset to the Bridges family.”
“I’m excited to join the Bridges family and look forward to leading our team to provide food and services to our neighbors with such critical needs,” said Richard. “More than 8,000 people identified as homeless in NJ at the last count – and more than 62,000 spend each night in NYC shelters. It’s a privilege to work with neighbors who need help so urgently and witness the generosity of our supporters, volunteers and partners in action.”
Uniacke will be based at Bridges' Summit office at Oakes Center and can be reached at 908-273-0176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Director since January 2004, Bhatt led Bridges’ outreach program for the homeless for the last fourteen plus years, having the ultimate responsibility for the oversight of the 2,600 volunteers every year that help Bridges to deliver food, clothing and necessities to people living on the street in New York City, Newark, Irvington and Summit.
In one of the top achievements during her tenure, Bhatt organized the Coalition of Services in Newark, a mobile team of services providers, to provide ancillary services to our street friends, including medical testing, physical and mental health services, benefits enrollment, and housing information. The success of that coalition led Bridges in March 2014, again under Bhatt’s direction, to open a home base in Newark known as Project Connect, whose dedicated staff provides case management services to people experiencing homelessness and links them to social and health services.
A statement from Bridges noted that Bhatt "wore many hats, including fundraiser, grant writer, event planner, program developer, and overall CEO and COO of everything Bridges, all with gentleness and grace." Her retirement is effective May 31.
Tulloch has served as a Bridges Board member from 2009-14, Board Secretary from 2010-12, Board Chair from 2012-13 and, for the last four years, as Deputy Executive Director. She worked side-by-side with Bhatt, contributing to the growth of the services and connections that Bridges provides to their 'street friends'. It has been a wonderful opportunity to work with such a professional and dedicated individual.
Bridges was founded in 1988, and reaches out to the homeless in New York City, Newark, Irvington, and Summit every week with more than 2,000 volunteers annually helping to deliver 65,000 meals, seasonal clothing, and necessities without question and with genuine respect. Its mission is to connect the housed and homeless to establish relationships that lead to greater acceptance and understanding, social and economic growth, and well-being.