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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7 Ways to Maintain Mental Wellness Year Round

Posted on May 30, 2017

As Mental Health Month comes to a close, it‘s important to continue to focus on mental wellness throughout the year.  So often we place emphasis on improving physical wellness, that mental wellness does not receive the attention it deserves.

Mental wellness, defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to the community. The state of one’s mental health can influence the ways in which they look at themselves, their life and others around them. Without a healthy mental state it can be extremely challenging to live life to the fullest extent.

Check out these 7 simple tips for maintaining mental wellness provided by Mental Health America:

  1. Has something been bothering you? Let it all out on paper. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression
  2. Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.
  3. Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone cortisol and boosts oxytocin which stimulates feelings of happiness.
  4. Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. They are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits.
  5. Do something with friends and family. Have a cookout, go to a park, or play a game. People are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends or family.
  6. Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature. It could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.
  7. Get off the grid. Leave your smart phone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts and other interruptions that can cause anxiety.

Dedicating even a short time every day to your mental wellness will reap significant benefits long term.

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

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Veterans Haven: Serving Those Who Served Our Country

Posted on May 28, 2017

After serving our country, many veterans face difficulties when they return to civilian life. Without structure and support, many of these men and women feel lost and may face hardships such as homelessness, unemployment, hunger, addiction or mental illness. Since 2008, Oaks Integrated Care has partnered with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to provide services for homeless or at risk veterans through the Veterans Haven program. The program provides transitional housing for veterans and emphasizes sobriety, employment and reintegration into the community. The Treatment Team, comprised of Addiction Specialists, Social Workers, RNs and Vocational Counselors, offers group therapy, job readiness, relapse prevention, health and wellness programs, life strategies, anger management, computer training and a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) group.

In 2013, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey awarded Oaks a $24,000 grant to expand the Veterans Haven program to include administration of the Beck Depression Inventory for all residents. Those funds allowed us to implement more targeted services designed to address clinical depression efforts and ultimately reach our goal of reintegrating retired military personnel into their communities.

While there is still work to be done, Oaks Integrated Care is dedicated to serving those who served our country by ensuring all veterans in our area have a roof over their heads and receive essential services.

Meet Ben Ben spent 8 years in the United States Air Force honorably serving our country. After returning home from the military he found work as a car salesman and although he did not find the work fulfilling, it helped make ends meet. It wasn’t long however, before Ben lost his home through divorce proceedings and he soon found himself depressed, homeless, struggling with addiction and out of work.

Ben entered Veteran’s Haven in May of 2013 determined to build a more stable life. In addition to the staff support provided through his treatment plan, Ben shares, “The staff at Vets Haven truly care about us. They listen to us, give us advice and help us leave as a better person.” In fact, last year Ben had to have a bi-lateral hip replacement. Ben’s brother suffered many complications after having his own bi-lateral hip replacement, so, understandably, Ben had many fears about his upcoming surgery. He reached out to a Twin Oaks staff member who was able to guide him through the surgery process and ease his anxieties.

While Ben continues to work through his addiction issues, he maximizes his time, diligently working on his certification in A+, Cisco and Juniper network engineering programs. In his own words, Ben explains “My time spent at Vets Haven me a great opportunity to restructure my life. I now have the tools to be successful.”

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Therapy Dogs Visit Oaks

Posted on May 25, 2017

To celebrate Mental Health Month this May, the Tri-State K-9 Crisis Response Team returned to Oaks Integrated Care for a 2nd year to teach us about their therapy dogs and the different services they provide! The therapy dogs serve children, families, neighborhoods and communities that are in crisis in an effort to provide comfort, stress relief, emotional support and crisis intervention services.  Teams will comfort victims of trauma, disaster, or violence fostering resilience and self-efficacy.

When asked about the process of becoming a handler/dog team on the crisis response team explained, “Each dog must have been a therapy dog for at least a year. The dog and handler need to have basic obedience skills, manners and be able to pass the certification test. The testing process is an evaluation of both the Handler and Dog.”

The organization currently consists of 35 handler/canine teams which conducted over 7,000 visitations in the last year to various locations such as homeless shelters, hospitals, universities, libraries, nursing homes and even flew to Florida after the Pulse Nightclub shooting. This year they hope to meet the goal of 10,000 face to face unduplicated visitations!

Some of the benefits of therapy pets for mental health include the reduction of loneliness, decreasing feelings of isolation and alienation, provide comfort, decrease anxiety and create motivation for recovery. Their sweet demeanors and unconditional love have a therapeutic benefit to those who face difficult health challenges. Those diagnosed with a range of health  issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, autism, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even Alzheimer’s disease have benefited from their interaction with therapy pets.

Thank you Tri-State K-9 Crisis Response Team for visiting and teaching us about the wonderful services you provide! To learn more about the organization visit: www.tri-statecanineresponse.org

At Oaks Integrated Care our role remains not just to provide mental health services but to bring awareness to the mental health issues that affect us all at some point in our lives. To learn more about our services, visit https://oaksintcare.org/services/ or call our Access Center 1-800-963-3377.

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Instagram Offers Mental Health Support

Posted on May 10, 2017

May is Mental Health Month!  As Oaks Integrated Care joins the Instagram community, we want to shed light on the strides the social media platform has taken to support mental health.

Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms in the world. Recognizing their ability to offer help and support, the photo sharing app has stepped forward in an effort to better the mental health of their users. Recently they introduced a new tool aimed at helping users who suffer from mental illness and depression through encouragement from friends and family.

1 in 5 people experience mental illness in a given year according to the World Health Organization and an estimated 350 million people suffer from depression. To offer support, Instagram’s new feature allows you to anonymously flag images should you come across something concerning in your feed. A message will then be sent to the account of the friend who posted the photo.  This message has been crafted by organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, to ensure the message is worded in the best way to help rather than seem invasive.

The message will read: “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.” This message is followed by different options for the individual to reach out to mental health experts.

Instagram also deleted triggers from their app. If you search a hashtag associated with self-harm you will notice that most have been hidden. Those that still exist now lead to support options for the user. This new feature will allow struggling individuals to understand that someone is taking notice and cares about their well-being. Instagram also offers various accounts that provide mental health resources and uplifting messages of support.

At Oaks Integrated Care our role remains not just to provide mental health services but to bring awareness to the mental health issues that affect us all at some point in our lives. To learn more about our services, visit https://oaksintcare.org/services/ or call our Access Center 1-800-963-3377.

Connect with us on our new Oaks Instagram page:
https://www.instagram.com/oaks_integrated_care/

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2017 Haddonfield Progressive Dinner Photos

Posted on May 8, 2017

Thank you to everyone who helped make the Haddonfield Progressive Dinner a success. This event would not be possible without the support of friends like you! Proceeds benefit the Oaks Integrated Care Food Pantries in Berlin and Mt. Holly. Visit our Flickr page to see all the fantastic photos from the Haddonfield Progressive Dinner.

Special Thanks to…

Todd and Chantelle Hart for hosting the hors d’ouvres portion of the evening.

Dinner Hosts

Brad & Anita Bendesky
Matt & Tina Caruso
John & Beth Master
Mike & Tracey Moyer
Sean & Amy O’Shea
Christopher & Maggie Poyatt
Jamie & Min Rowe
Jack & Barbara Tarditi
Eric & Lindsay Vest
Bill Judd & Nancy Weber

Chefs

Anthony Michael’s Catering
Brio Tuscan Grille
The Capital Grille
Catelli Duo
The ChopHouse
Cooking With Sofia
foodwerx
The Farm & Fisherman Tavern & Market
Iron Hill Brewery
Seasons 52

Thank you to all our generous sponsors!

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