Northfield Bank Foundation, the charitable arm of Northfield Bank, has provided Community Access Unlimited (CAU) with a $15,000 grant to be used for the agency's Mobile Street Outreach Program. The grant is a continuation of the foundation's support of the program.
CAU is a statewide Elizabeth-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.
There are more than 500 homeless and runaway youth in Union County, according to the Union County Division of Children and Family Services. CAU's Mobile Street Outreach Program operates to locate, connect with and move runaway and homeless youths into a continuum of care environment.
Through the CAU program, trained counselors go out into the community to connect with these youth. While reunification with family is the first goal, in instances where that is not a viable option, the counselors offer access to safe shelter, including the Union County Youth Shelter, which is operated by CAU. The counselors also provide information on safety and self-sufficiency, as well as clothing and blankets, food and water and hygiene and safety kits.
The Northfield Bank Foundation grant will enable CAU to expand the number of hours their counselors spend in the field and will help pay for supplies, according to Tanya Johnson, CAU's senior assistant executive director. Last year CAU connected with more than 150 homeless and runaway youths through the program and moved about 35 into shelters, either the Union County Youth Shelter or other facilities within the county, she said.
"There may be no segment of our society more at risk than homeless and runaway youths," Johnson said. "The more time we can spend reaching out to them, the more of them we can help and put on a road to a more fulfilled life. The support Northfield Bank Foundation is providing is invaluable to our efforts."
Diane Senerchia, executive director of the foundation, said," The Northfield Bank Foundation was established to support charitable initiatives within the communities which Northfield Bank serves. We have supported CAU’s Mobile Street Outreach Program for two consecutive years because it is a perfect fit with our mission to help underserved youth.
"To date, the Foundation has donated in excess of $1 million to many non-profit organizations in Union and Middlesex counties, with a grand total of $5.2 million in donations including Brooklyn and Staten Island."
Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 37th year in 2016, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights. CAU currently serves more than 6,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.