Charity shields homeless during Sandy

Written by: Laymon Flack

To make food bags in the dark for complete strangers staying in motels is one of the projects that people working at Home Front did during Hurricane Sandy. Many of Mercer County’s homeless and low income families were helped by the organization during the recent storm.

According to HomeFront’s website, their mission is “to end homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community.”

During Hurricane Sandy, the roof of the Rescue Mission on Carroll Street in Trenton sustained heavy damage, leaving a number of families with no place to go. HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center (FPC) welcomed in twelve women and their children so that they could have shelter. The Carroll Street Rescue Mission is not affiliated with HomeFront, but they were aided in their time of need.

Assistant Director for HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center, Marc Allen, explained that the staff was trained for emergency situations such as Hurricane Sandy.

They were equipped with generators that kept the common hallways lit, televisions working, hot water running and refrigerators cold. During the storm, families gathered in the common area and watched television with programs that were child-oriented.

The FPC offers housing for homeless families from 30 to 90 days. In case of emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy, FPC can house up to 40 people, with enough supplies to sustain all of them plus the staff, for three days.

It was not only the FPC component of HomeFront that pitched in extra effort in the wake of Sandy. Their Lawrenceville location played a major part in aiding the surrounding area. Connie Mercer, HomeFront CEO, stated that there has been a forty percent increase in traffic coming to HomeFront since the hurricane and that they are “anticipating a bigger increase.”

Currently, there are fourteen students from Notre Dame High School who are volunteering their time at the Lawrenceville HomeFront shelving books and accepting and processing the flood of recent donations.

A common theme at both locations was the idea of “keeping it local.” Hurricane Sandy decimated HomeFront’s Thanksgiving efforts because it hit the area the same week that the local community was supposed to bring in food for twelve hundred families. Other organizations exist which aid low-income and homeless families, but HomeFront is from the Mercer County area and helps locally.

In preparation for future storms, HomeFront FPC is seeking to be able to take care of at least forty people for a minimum of ten days. HomeFront provided a much needed service for the community during Hurricane Sandy; according to Marc Allen they “put the emergency in shelter.”

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Laymon Flack

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