ELIZABETH, NJ - Assemblywoman Annette Quijano was among those honored at The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless’ first annual “There’s No Place Like Home” Cocktail Reception on Wednesday at the Grand Summit Hotel.

Quijano received the Founders Award for Public Service for her efforts to aid homeless and at-risk youth in the Elizabeth community.  Through her “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation” drive she not only brings community supporters together to make over 2,500 sandwiches in the month of August, but she makes it a point to remind the community that summers are tough for families and for many children because it means less food.  She ends the month with a “Back to School Kickoff” Cocktail Hour to spearhead the collection of backpacks and school supplies for children. 

“This is a tremendous honor given the remarkable work that the Elizabeth Coalition does each and every day on behalf of the homeless in our community,” said Quijano (D-Union).  “They are often a forgotten population so I’m grateful that we can help shine a spotlight on this important issue as we work towards our shared goal of eradicating homelessness.”

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During her remarks at the event, Quijano also announced that she will be doubling the number of days for her 4th Annual “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation” drive from five to 10 days during the month of August and first week of September in the hopes of doubling the number of sandwiches they can contribute to the community.

Currently, there are over 10,000 homeless individuals and families in New Jersey and nearly 65 percent of the homeless population is children. 

“We are thrilled to have such a wonderful group of people to honor for our very first Cocktail Reception” said Executive Director, Linda Flores-Tober. “This cocktail reception is a celebration of community, hospitality and hope.  These are the special gifts that we give to our clients.  But we cannot do it without the generous support of our donors.  Elizabeth is a great City.  There are many local businesses here and our hope is that they we will continue to support each other.  Ultimately, our goal is to help our neighbors and I think everyone can get on board with that.” 

The coalition also honored Actavis with the Founder’s Award for Community Service for its commitment to helping homeless families with its employee driven volunteer work.  Carmen Rivera, local branch manager of Investors Bank also received the Spirit of Joanie Award in honor of the Coalition’s first Executive Director, Joanie Driscoll-Kelly who passed away in 2003 due to health complications.

Since 1981, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless has existed to serve the immediate needs of the homeless and near homeless; empower individuals and families with tools to transition to safe, affordable, permanent housing; and advocate for people to achieve housing equity and participate in the larger community.