The holiday season should be the happiest time of the year. For Monmouth County’s homeless population, however, the winter months often prove the most treacherous. The Freehold Clergy Association Emergency Housing and Advocacy Program is a refuge for many who have fallen on hard times, providing shelter and a hot meal to homeless men in Monmouth County from Dec. 1 through March 31.
“Last year provided 1,100 bed nights — someone in a bed for the night. We had between 35 to 40 individuals last year. Some stayed for the whole program,” said Stan Rosenthal, who helps run the program along with Joan Mandel and George Lowe.
Homeless men who take part in the program arrive at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Freehold for an evening intake process. Following the screening process, which depends heavily on volunteers, the men are transported to a church or temple in Western Monmouth that will house them and provide a hot dinner and a light breakfast for them.
Participating houses of worship include First Church of Christ Science in Freehold, Hope Lutheran Church in Freehold, Jerseyville United Methodist Church in Howell, St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Freehold, St. Veronica’s Catholic Church in Howell, and Temple Shaari Emeth in Manalapan, Rosenthal said.
Now in its ninth year, the program has expanded to include a focus on advocacy. Mandel said the organization’s ties with regional social service agencies, coupled with learning the needs of the individual men often led to emergency housing program volunteers assisting the men in finding work, transitioning into permanent housing, or applying for state and federal programs for which they were eligible. Broadening the program to include an advocacy element seemed a natural next step, she noted.
“It can be very difficult for a homeless person to get through the bureaucracy, especially if you don’t have a phone or can’t get down to where the services are,” Rosenthal said.
How You Can Help
The cost of housing a homeless man in the program is $5 for the night, $35 for the week of $150 for the month. A tax-deductible donation may be sent to Hope Lutheran Church, 211 Elton Adelphia Road, Freehold, NJ 07728. Include your name, address and phone number. Checks should be made out to Hope Lutheran Church.
Donations of winter coats, gloves, socks, scarves, hats and knapsacks are also needed, as are toiletries such as shampoo, deodorant and razors, Mandel said. Other needed donations include packaged snack items, juice boxes, grocery store gift cards and phone cards.
Rosenthal said he recognizes it will be difficult for the long-running program to raise money following the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy on the area but noted donations of time are also greatly appreciated.
“We always need volunteers—people to help with intake, people willing to sleep over,” Mandel said.
If you wish to make a donation or would like to inquire further about the program, contact Stan Rosenthal at 908-902-0769 or Joan Mandel at 848-459-6215. To inquire about volunteering, contact George Lowe, who is coordinating the emergency housing program this year, at 732-299-4320.
"I have no way of solving homeless, but what we've been able to do is solve it one person at a time," Rosenthal said.