Margaret Mead said it best when she said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
In this spirit, fifteen people came together in the Fall of 2011 to help change the world for Somerset County’s abused and neglected children. Inspired by the invitation of retiring Superior Court Judge Thomas Dilts to join with him in an effort to help meet the unmet needs of abused and neglected children, this group, now known as the Children’s Hope Initiative, is working under the auspices of the Friends of Somerset County Youth, Inc., a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that has been a vehicle for helping meet the unmet needs of all of Somerset’s youth for more than a generation.
The first order of business was to agree upon our mission and who it is that we seek to serve. Our mission is: to meet the unmet needs of abused or neglected children and their families by providing resources for existing organizations in Somerset County. The children we seek to serve are those who have suffered trauma: through physical, sexual, emotional abuse or parental neglect; through exposure to domestic violence that has led to significant emotional harm; or who exhibit acting out behaviors consistent with abuse even if abuse has not been confirmed.
What we have done
Since our formation in 2011, we have:
– Provided creative art therapies for 106 children through funding Creative Heartwork
– Supported the establishment of Positive Parenting program in Somerset County to help parents find ways to overcome impediments to good parenting
– Helped establish the “Children’s Hope After School Program in memory of Paige Whitney Imperatore” at the Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center serving 50 children by providing 12 hours of intensive outpatient services each week. Program offers transportation and adjunctive therapy (art, music, dance, drama)
What we are doing
– Working with Middle Earth to support new and expanded mentoring opportunities. (Middle Earth: http://www.middleearthnj.org/)
– Working with Family and Community Services of Somerset County (Family and Community Services of Somerset County: http://fcssomerset.org/) to cut waiting time for children needing mental healthy counseling and medicines
– Implementing tutoring programs through CASA-SHAW to help 20 abused and neglected children who are in out-of-home placements and have fallen behind educationally.
– Supporting the “Children’s Hope After School Program in memory of Paige Whitney Imperatore (CHAP)”
– Placing Community volunteers with youth serving organizations.
What we want to do
– Ensure our current initiatives are funded going forward ($90,000 year)
– Find new ways to move into prevention services, especially to help promote “good parenting” to young parents and teens