October: National Bullying Prevention Month

Posted on October 26, 2016

5 Ways to Talk to Your Child about Bullying


We all know someone who was bullied or have experienced it ourselves. When a bully becomes your child’s problem, it’s important to understand how to deal effectively with the situation.

Check out these statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

1 out of 4 students report being bullied at school.

1 out of 5 students admit to taking part in bullying.

35% of kids have been threatened or harassed online.

1 out of 5 kids admit to being threatened more than once.

How do I know my child is being bullied?

Bullying occurs when one or more people target others through purposeful exclusion, threats of harm, intimidation or physical assaults. It takes shape in a variety of ways which can be physical or verbal, taking place in person or through various forms of technology such as social media platforms and text messaging. If action is not taken, bullying can cause severe effects related to self-esteem, social interaction and performance in school. It also puts children at greater risk of dropping out of school, self-harm, abuse of drugs and alcohol, depression and committing crimes.

How do I talk to my child about what bullying is, how to stand up to it and how to get help?

  1. Talk about your past experiences with bullying. Showing you understand and sharing examples will make your child feel more at ease.
  2. Keep an open line of communication and remain involved. This can be done through questions about school, friends, interests and all other aspects of their lives.
  3. Speak up. Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. Create a safe space for open, honest dialog.
  4. Teach your child that there are options. Discuss different courses of action such as walking away or notifying school officials.
  5. Promote kindness. Urge your child to help others who are being bullied by showing kindness or finding help.

October is a great time to raise awareness for this important issue, but we should all work hard year round doing our part to prevent bullying. Share your story on Facebook and tell us what you have done to prevent bullying or how it has affected you.

For more information about bullying, including how to prevent it and how to get help please visit stopbullying.gov.

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Shining Light on Mental Illness

Posted on October 6, 2016


October 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. During this week communities come together to discuss and educate others on mental illness, helping to end the silence that often exists. Some stats on mental health in the U.S. are…

Approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year.

Approximately 1 in 25 adults experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.

Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.

We Can Help! Oaks Integrated Care provides over 150 health and social service programs for vulnerable children, adults and families in our community. Outreach services give adults living with mental illness the opportunity to manage their illness through supportive counseling, housing, vocational assistance, family support, medication education and crisis intervention.

YOU Can Help – Take the Pledge! Join Oaks Integrated Care and our friends at NAMI as we fight against the stigma surrounding mental health!

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Thank You for Making Touch A Truck a Huge Success!

Posted on September 27, 2016


Thank you to all the attendees, trucks, sponsors, and volunteers who made Touch A Truck such a huge success!

Proceeds benefit the Oaks Integrated Care food pantries in Mt. Holly and Berlin, which serve over 800 families per month.


To view more photos from the event, please visit our Flickr page.


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Over 1,100 Backpacks Donated!

Posted on September 7, 2016

THANK YOU to everyone who supported Oaks Integrated Care’s Operation Fill-A-Backpack drive. With all of the community support, we handed out over 1,100 backpacks to children and teens in need! This is a big increase from last year’s 900 backpacks.

YOU gave a child the chance to start the school year with the tools and confidence needed to succeed!

Here are a few photos from this year’s drive:

EmersonThank you Emerson Group!

ReMaxThank you ReMax Preferred and ReMax of Cherry Hill!

SuretyThank you Surety Title Company!

TD EquipmentThank you TD Equipment!


If you have pictures of your own backpack drive, post them on our Facebook wall!

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Taking Care: Body, Mind, and Spirit – A Conference for Caregivers

Posted on July 19, 2016

Are you a caregiver for a senior family member?

Please join Oaks Integrated Care for a conference in Mercer County presented by our Senior Well-Being Program. Family caregivers of seniors with long-term illnesses are invited to attend this powerful half-day conference to gain insight into the challenges and issues associated with caregiving.

Caring for CaregiverThursday, July 28, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm
Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Center
3100 Quakerbridge Road, Mercerville, NJ

The program begins at 9:30 with registration, coffee and refreshments. Topics include Community Resources presented by the Mercer County Office on Aging, Food and Mood presented by Michelle Summerson, RD and Shirley Roberts, MA, LPC and Moving, Grooving & Soothing Yourself  presented by Joan Brame, PhD. The day concludes at 12:45 with evaluations and a door prize.

To register for this informative workshop, call RWJ Health Connection at 609-584-5900 or register online at rwjhamilton.org/education.

If you would like more information, please call the Oaks Caregiver Specialist at 609-396-6788 x213.

We hope to see you there!

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Welcome Preferred Behavioral Health Group

Posted on July 5, 2016

Wayne Gretzky once said, “Skate to where the puck will be, not where it is now or was a second ago.” I couldn’t agree with this strategy more, which is why I’m thrilled to announce that Oaks Integrated Care and Preferred Behavioral Health Group plan to affiliate on October 1, 2016. The new partnership will enhance our mission, expand services into Monmouth and Ocean Counties and strengthen our ability to succeed in the changing healthcare environment.

The affiliation unifies two clinically strong, financially healthy organizations with a shared mission of improving the quality of life for individuals and families living with a mental illness, addiction or developmental disability. Together we will strengthen service delivery, advance best practices and maximize efficiencies. Most importantly, the affiliation brings the opportunity for growth, giving more people access to compassionate, quality care.

I firmly believe that in today’s changing healthcare environment, our future success relies on strategic planning and the strength of state-wide partnerships. Like many other providers across New Jersey, we cannot predict what lies ahead. However, we can create positive change by considering creative, innovative approaches. We must “skate to where the puck will be” to ensure we can continue to help those who desperately need our services.bobandpat

As an affiliate, Preferred Behavioral Health Group will keep their name and remain an independent company under the leadership of CEO, Mary Pat Angelini, while becoming a member of the Oaks family of services. The affiliation is dependent on the final approval from the State of New Jersey and the organizations’ Boards of Trustees.

With a combined budget of 124 million dollars, nearly 200 programs serving 25,000 people and over 2,200 employees, Oaks Integrated Care will emerge as one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive human service providers. As always, I sincerely appreciate the support of our Board of Trustees, employees, donors, volunteers and partners throughout this process. Thank you for your willingness to embrace this positive change for our organization and the community at large.

Cheers to the next step in our journey,

Bob Pekar
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. To learn more about Preferred Behavioral Health Group, please visit www.preferredbehavioral.org.

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Become a #HungerHero This Summer

Posted on June 16, 2016

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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.

How YOU can make a difference!

1. Drop off donations. Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm, at the following locations:
Oaks Integrated Care Food Pantry
770 Woodlane Road, Suite 16
Mt. Holly, NJ 08060

Oaks Integrated Care Food Pantry
128 Cross Keys Road
Berlin, NJ 08009

2. Hold a drive. Involve your friends, family or co-workers! You can make a difference by hosting a food drive to help replenish our supplies.

3. Make a monetary donation. Mail to Oaks Integrated Care, Attn: Development Office, 770 Woodlane Road, Mt. Holly, NJ 08060 or donate online:
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Stock the Oaks Integrated Care Food Pantries with Kid Friendly Items:

-Peanut Butter & Jelly
-Macaroni & Cheese
-Canned Pasta
-Fruit Snacks
-Microwave Meals
-Fruit Juice (100%)
-Powdered/Canned Milk
-Breakfast Bars
-Hot/Cold Cereal
-Pop Tarts

Looking for more ways to get involved? Visit our Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation page!

Questions? Please call the Development Office at 609-267-5928.

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Finding a Place To Call Home: Homelessness in our Communities

Posted on June 9, 2016

Imagine trying to recover from a serious mental illness and not knowing where you will be sleeping at night. Or imagine the difficulty of managing a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease without a stable space to come home to. Unfortunately, situations like these are common in our communities.

The words “affordable” and “housing” often do not fit together in New Jersey, especially for those with special needs. In January 2015, 10,211 homeless adults and children were counted across the state of New Jersey during a “point in time” count which gives a snapshot of the homeless population. Forty two percent reported some type of disability, with more reporting mental health issues than any other type of disability.

Research shows that without a permanent, stable home to live in dignity, it is nearly impossible for individuals to move toward wellness and recovery. A home also provides opportunities for wraparound services, such as counseling and case management services which give people the chance to rebuild their lives. Inadequate housing can lead not just to homelessness, but also lengthy hospitalizations, frequent visits to psychiatric screening centers and ERs, and involvement in the criminal justice system.

We understand the critical need to provide housing that is not only safe, permanent and affordable but also accessible to community resources and transportation. Oaks Integrated Care currently houses 450 people in 114 supportive housing residences and 56 group homes in 46 communities throughout New Jersey. In addition, our PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transitioning from Homelessness) program in Camden and Mercer Counties places adults with a serious mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in appropriate housing and links them to formal mental health treatment.

As part of a collaborative effort to reduce homelessness in Camden County, Oaks recently partnered with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, a citywide coalition of hospitals, primary care providers, and  community representatives that work together to deliver better healthcare to our most vulnerable citizens. The Coalition received 50 vouchers from the NJ Department of Community Affairs to implement a Housing First project to support homeless individuals with two or more chronic health conditions. The Housing First model provides an integrated solution to care by stabilizing the living situation first which allows individuals to focus on other priorities, such as their emotional and physical health. This innovative, evidence based approach has been highly effective in communities across the country.

Everyone deserves a decent affordable home to live a healthy life and enjoy a future. Housing and treatment can mean the difference between a person lost and a full meaningful productive life. By working together as a community, it’s possible to make permanent supportive housing accessible and give everyone the opportunity to attain the simple dream of “having a place to call home.”

– Pam

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Share the Excitement

Posted on June 3, 2016

Thank you to Easter Seals NJ for sharing this amazing video of Tina who is beyond excited to be a new greeter at Walmart. You can truly hear the pure joy in her voice as she tells her happy story. Tina is in a program at Easter Seals NJ and also receives housing from Oaks Integrated Care. She has clearly come a long way and worked hard to gain the skills necessary to gain employment. We couldn’t be more proud!

Please watch and share the excitement. Tina hopes her story can help others and  you can help make that possible!

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May is Mental Health Month!

Posted on May 20, 2016

May is Mental Health Month and Mental Health America has chosen Life with a Mental Illness as this year’s theme. Life with a Mental Illness stresses the importance of speaking up about mental health.

Do You Know What Mental Illness Feels Like?

We often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illnesses…but if someone hasn’t gone through it, would they know how to recognize it?

So often, clinical terms don’t do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. We know that two people with the same diagnosis can experience the same symptom and describe it in very different ways. Understanding the signs of a mental illness and identifying how it can feel can be confusing — and sometimes can contribute to ongoing silence or hesitation to get help.

This May, Oaks Integrated Care is raising awareness of the importance of speaking up about mental health, and asking individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like by tagging social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike. You can share your words, pictures or videos on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OaksIntCare.

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Posting with our hashtag is a way to speak up to share your point of view with people who may be struggling to explain what they are going through—and to help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness. Life with a Mental Illness is meant to help remove the shame and stigma of speaking out, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need.

Your words, pictures or videos can help break down the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and show others that they are not alone. Thank you for being a positive voice for change.

– Rachael

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