Jamie’s Road to Independence

Posted on August 16, 2017

Thirty-one-year-old Jamie lives with a developmental disability and also struggled for years with suicidal ideations and psychiatric hospitalizations. Living independently and maintaining interpersonal relationships was extremely difficult due to challenges with a personality disorder and bipolar disorder. For much of her life, Jamie yearned to find independence.

In 2008, Jamie entered our Supervised Apartments where she started to learn coping and anger management skills. The program provides adults with developmental disabilities the necessary daily living skills to function on their own with minimal assistance such as meal preparation, medication administration, household upkeep and community integration.

Today Jamie can proudly say that she has not had any hospitalizations in nearly ten years and no longer experiences thoughts of suicide. With daily encouragement, she now maintains her apartment with minimal help from staff, responsibly takes her medication and advocates for overall health and wellness. Jamie also sustains two jobs which allow her to function independently in the community.

This past May, Jamie and her long-term boyfriend, Raul, held a beautiful, intimate ceremony as a symbol of their love. The couple’s ability to maintain a stable relationship symbolized the icing on the cake to celebrate Jamie’s road to independence! In the future, she looks forward to living with Raul, raising a family and taking a Disney Cruise with a guided tour. Jamie’s story shows that with stable housing and wraparound services, the road to independence is possible.

For more information about services, visit www.oaksintcare.org or call our Access Center: 1-800-963-3377.

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Operation Fill-A-Backpack: Now – August 18

Posted on August 1, 2017

 Give a Child the Confidence Needed to Succeed

It may feel like summer just started, but ‘Back to School’ is just around the corner! Children throughout the community will pick out new pencils, notebooks, binders and more for their first day of school. When children return to school without these basic school supplies, it can have a devastating impact on their education.

Unfortunately, many parents of children in Oaks Integrated Care programs cannot afford new backpacks and essential supplies for the upcoming school year. These essential items will give a child hope and the confidence needed to start the school year off on the right foot!

You can help! #FillABackpack

  1. Run your OWN Operation Fill-A-Backpack drive
    Get your family, friends, co-workers or community involved! We can provide you with a toolkit including collection bins, flyers and email templates.
  2. Donate Items
    For a complete list of drop-off locations, visit our Operation Fill-A-Backpack page.

Donation Ideas

  • Backpacks
  • Lunchboxes
  • Book covers
  • Pens, pencils, pencil cases & erasers
  • Three-ring binder with paper
  • Spiral bound & composition notebooks
  • Calculators (solar & scientific)
  • Protractors & rulers
  • Index cards
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Facial tissues & hand sanitizer
  • Pocket folders
  • Crayons, markers & highlighters
  1. No time to shop? We’ll do it for you!

Mail monetary donations to:
Oaks Integrated Care
Attn: Development Office
770 Woodlane Road
Mt. Holly, NJ 08060

Questions? Please call the Development Office at 609-267-5928, x99836 or visit www.oaksintcare.org.

 

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Donor Spotlight: CommUNITY – Cakes4Kids

Posted on July 27, 2017

Thanks to the generosity of CommUNITY’s Cakes4Kids program, children living in oaks Integrated Care group homes have the opportunity to celebrate their birthdays like any other child. The organization donates, beautiful, individualized birthday cakes with special themes and fun flavors to help provide the traditional birthday experience every child deserves!

CommUNITY, a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization, promotes greater cross-cultural understanding in the South Jersey-Philadelphia region by giving back, serving communities and promoting unity through diversity. The Cakes4Kids program was born out of love for children, confections and celebration! Fozia Janjua, Director of Membership, shared, “This is the least that we can do to help these children who are persevering through some difficult circumstances.”

Thank you for your support and commitment to our community!

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In the End, It Really Does Matter

Posted on July 21, 2017

Thursday afternoon, July 21, phones started to ring and buzz constantly, Facebook became flooded with posts and the world shared in heartbreak as they discovered Chester Bennington had committed suicide at age 41. The Linkin Park lead singer’s death shocked and saddened many fans including me. More importantly, six children lost their father, a wife lost her husband, two parents lost their son and a brother lost his brother.

When I received the text about his death, I didn’t want to believe it. I told myself my friend had simply come across fake news. I took to the internet hoping with everything I had that it wasn’t true. My heart shattered when I saw the many posts on my Facebook timeline, sharing about the loss of the beloved artist.

Ever since I can remember Linkin Park provided me with an escape from anything negative going on in my life. Their music, Bennington’s music, had a huge part in helping me cope with bullying in middle school. Then in high school when I felt too ashamed and embarrassed to reach out to anyone, that music helped me survive and eventually work up the courage and strength to leave an abusive relationship. To this day I still listen to Linkin Park when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. For so many people it provides an escape from reality or inspires strength to leave a situation that may be causing harm, to understand that they deserve better and are better.

If you’re reading this, it means you’re still here. Please know you’re not the only one who hurts. You’re not the only one with questions and sadness and pain. Mental illness does not see a face. It does not see status, wealth, race, gender, etc. Depression does not care who you are or what you do. It will grasp you just the same and leave you struggling for breath. Take the time to appreciate all that you have. Unfortunately, Bennington wouldn’t have been the only person to die by suicide in the United States on Thursday. Every day, an estimated 121 people take their own lives with suicide being the 10th leading cause of death, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

At Oaks Integrated Care we can help! Mental health conditions are common, treatable and many individuals go on to recover and lead full and productive lives. Unfortunately many people are reluctant to ask for help or simply don’t know where to find it. You can help ensure no one has to face mental illness alone. If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed or unable to cope, we encourage you to reach out for professional help.

For resources or more information about our services visit www.oaksintcare.org or call our Access Center: 1-800-963-3377. In the end, it really does matter. Rest in peace Chester Bennington. You will be greatly missed.

-Jeannette

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A Special Mother’s Day Tea

Posted on July 5, 2017

Pastel table cloths, spring flowers, aromatic teas and china tea cups are the hallmark of an English tea party. To celebrate Mother’s Day this past May, staff transformed the conference room at the Charles Yates Center for Children and Families in Lumberton into a lovely English tea setting in honor of the teen mothers from our Teenage Parents Program (TAPP). Mother’s Day is a special day for ALL mothers to feel loved and appreciated and staff wanted to ensure the young mothers in the program experienced a positive, memorable occasion.

The young women in the program juggle motherhood, school and many of them part-time employment. The tea party was the perfect opportunity to pamper the moms and recognize their hard work. Thanks to donations from our Project Dress Up shop, the ladies picked out beautiful gowns, shoes and accessories to wear to the event. On the day of the tea, the moms and their children entered the conference room decorated especially for them with spring inspired decorations and personalized tea cups. The group enjoyed each other’s company while savoring delicious petit fours, assorted sandwiches and salads served with delightful tea by Oaks staff members. Alize Hughes, a mother in attendance shared, “I was so surprised when I walked into the room and saw all the decorations and food.  I wasn’t expecting that.  It was so nice.”

The Mother’s Day Tea clearly made the young moms feel special and the staff plan on making it an annual event! Check out the pictures from the occasion:

Through TAPP, young moms and their families receive mentoring, life skills training and help with parenting skills. For more information about TAPP and other services offered at Oaks Integrated Care, visit www.oaksintcare.org or call our Access Center: 1-800-963-3377.

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Be a #HungerHero This Summer

Posted on June 22, 2017

For many families in our area, summer vacation means a struggle to feed their children healthy, filling meals. An estimated 39,000 children in South Jersey are at risk of malnutrition during the summer months when schools’ federal breakfast and lunch programs are not available. For families living below the poverty level, school means more than just education; it also means a dependable source of food.

YOU can make a difference!

  1. Drop off donations. Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm, at the following locations:

Mt. Holly Food Pantry
770 Woodlane Road, Suite 16
Mt. Holly, NJ 08060

Berlin Food Pantry
128 Cross Keys Road
Berlin, NJ 08009

  1. Hold a drive. You can make a difference by hosting a food drive to help replenish our supplies. Get your co-workers, community group or church involved!
  2. Make a monetary donation online:

or mail to:
Oaks Integrated Care
Attn: Development Office
770 Woodlane Road, Suite 15
Mt. Holly, NJ 08060


Stock the Oaks Integrated Care Food Pantries with Kid Friendly Items:

-Hot/cold Cereal
-Dronola/Breakfast Bars
-Peanut Butter/Jelly
-Macaroni & Cheese
-Canned Tuna/Chicken
-Canned Pasta
-Microwavable Meals
-Raisins
-Applesauce/Fruit Cups
-Fruit Snacks
-Fruit Juice
-Powdered/Canned Milk

Interested in more ways to get involved? Visit our food pantry here!

 

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Save the Date: October 13 Moorestown Progressive Dinner

Posted on June 20, 2017

Mark your calendars for an evening of food, friends and fun all in the name of charity. Our Moorestown Progressive Dinner will be October 13, 2017! Proceeds from the event benefit the Oaks Integrated Care Food Pantries which serve over 800 families a month.

Begin the evening with a fantastic cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception. From there, move on to a dinner home to enjoy an intimate dinner with friends prepared by a talented area chef in a Moorestown home.

For more information about hosting a dinner, ticket sales or sponsorships, contact the Development Office at 609-267-5928 or visit www.oaksintcare.org.

2016 Moorestown Progressive Dinner hosts

Please take a moment to enjoy all the photos from last year’s Moorestown Progressive Dinner!

 

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Donor Spotlight: Johnson, Kendall & Johnson, Inc

Posted on June 16, 2017

   

“The entire experience felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said twelve year old Justin. “I felt so special when they sent someone to escort us to the Platinum Lounge!” This past February two children in our FLEX Mentoring program attended their first professional New Jersey Devils hockey game at the Prudential Center thanks to tickets donated by Johnson Kendall Johnson, Inc. FLEX offers mentoring, counseling, one on one educational support and behavioral assistance to youth with special emotional needs.

The kids and their mentor enjoyed access to the VIP entrance, exclusive admission to the luxury Platinum Lounge and gourmet dining.  Seventeen year old Kelsey exclaimed, “It was so fun watching the craziness of the game. I got to eat a big hamburger and I loved it. I also tried raspberries for the first time!” Opportunities like this make an incredible impact on children in our programs and provide a sense of hope that anything is possible.

In addition to donating the tickets, Johnson Kendall & Johnson, Inc. sponsored our three major 2017 special events at the $10,000 Diamond Level for the 7th year in a row. Proceeds from the two Progressive Dinners and Touch A Truck benefit our food pantries in Mt. Holly and Berlin which serve over 800 families a month in our community.

Thank you to our friends at Johnson, Kendall & Johnson, Inc. for your giving spirit and unwavering commitment to our organization and the community!

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Homeless Outreach: Joseph’s Journey

Posted on June 8, 2017

The department of Housing and Urban Development reports:

On any given night, there are over 600,000 homeless in the U.S.
8,941 people experience homelessness in New Jersey
Homelessness in NJ has decreased 12.4% since 2015

Sixty five year old Joseph became homeless in 1988 after a devastating fire destroyed his home and belongings of 25 years. With no family to turn to for help, he moved around finding shelter in the woods and abandoned buildings. For the past 10 years he called a small space under a bridge in Mercer County his home. This is where Joseph’s story begins to turn from tragedy to hope.

Our Project for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program first met Joseph in January of 2016. PATH provides outreach services to homeless adults with a serious mental illness with the goal of linking them to housing and formal mental health treatment. By March he agreed to services but was not yet ready for housing. Over the years, he transformed his space under the bridge to make it his own with organized sections to hang clothes, line up shoes and store food. He was comfortable and the thought of leaving his “home” was very scary.

PATH educated Joseph about all the positives that would come with housing and encouraged him to look at options. They found an apartment five minutes from the bridge that would make the transition a little easier. Thanks to the determination of PATH team members, on November 1, 2016 Joseph moved into his own apartment where he was able to celebrate his first Thanksgiving since 1988!

Leaving his familiar setting was extremely challenging at first, but now Joseph shares, “I’m happy here. I can promise you won’t find me at the bridge anymore!” Finding housing provided him with the safe, stable environment he needed to work toward a healthier future. Joseph now receives mental health treatment and looks forward to reaching his wellness goals.

On that night in 1988, Joseph lost more than just his home and belongings- he lost his sense of dignity. The PATH program works tirelessly to engage homeless adults like Joseph by visiting local shelters, transportation centers, parks, waterfronts and tent cities in Camden and Mercer Counties. In 2016, the program served 212 individuals and 38 were connected with permanent housing. Just one more outreach can mean the difference between a person lost and a full, meaningful, productive life.

For more information about the PATH program visit www.oaksintcare.org or call our Access Center: 1-800-963-3377.

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Join Our Day of Healing!

Posted on June 2, 2017

Join us for a Day of Healing presented by Mercer Youth Partial Care. We invite Trenton youth, adults and families who have been affected by violence or other forms of trauma to engage with each other, participate in health and wellness activities and gain knowledge and resources to better care for themselves and their families.

Activities include yoga, meditation, art, music, panels on alternative health and wellness practices, raffles and more! A light breakfast and lunch will be served as well.

When: Saturday, June 10 9:00 am-2:00pm

Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church 1140 Greenwood Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08609

To RSVP please contact Rosa DeJesus at 609-396-0800 or rosa.dejesus@oaksintcare.org by June 7.

Overall health and wellness is not possible without taking care of both body and mind. Just as we have learned ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other illnesses, we must also learn ways to cope with the daily stress and challenges of life.

Check out these 5 tips from Oaks for minding your health-

  1. Engage someone every day. Relationships and social connections can ward off the effects of stress on depression, anxiety and other health problems. Listening to someone’s wants and needs can often shed a new light on your own challenges.
  2. Let go of blaming others. Even when life is unfair, blaming others leaves you powerless to make positive, healthy and lasting changes in your life. Taking full responsibility allows you to reclaim the power over your own choices and improve opportunities for change.
  3. Eat healthier today than yesterday. A heart healthy diet and exercise are key to not just physical, but mental health. The types of foods and drinks you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system and impact how well your mind and body are able to function.
  4. Don’t kid yourself! Sleep is critical and lack of sleep makes everything difficult. Poor sleep is linked to significant problems including greater risk of depression and anxiety, increased risk of heart disease and impaired memory. Getting some shut-eye will make you more likely to succeed at your tasks and in turn enjoy greater well-being.
  5. Make changes today; yesterday is already in the past. It’s important to not let your past define you. Each day presents a new opportunity to start over, learn from our mistakes, choose a new attitude and move forward.

We can all take small steps to promote better health and wellness. By gradually making positive changes and building on successes, achieving a healthy lifestyle is possible. Learn more tips and practices for minding your health during our Day of Healing. We look forward to seeing you there!

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