Earlier in the year, Hillside Mayor, Angela Garretson and UWGUC CEO, James W. Horne, Jr. conducted community walks, knocking door-to-door, asking families what were they struggling with and how can they help. In an analysis of demographically based concerns education is a top concern for the three largest demographic groups, Black/African American, Caucasian and Hispanic. Individually, housing affordability was a top concern for many Black/African Americans, crime for Hispanics and jobs for Caucasian. Furthermore in an analysis by how long residents have lived in Hillside; education and affordable housing was a top concern from all Hillside residents.
The data analysis resulted in a Family Success Center, which features a variety of social services and family-centric programs designed to help strengthen families and also provide resources for family’s specific needs such as affordable housing, child care and education and jobs. The program offerings are based upon the feedback collected by families during the community walks and also from UWGUC’s experience in working with other family success centers in Union County.
Commemorating the event with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, UWGUC, Hillside Township officials, legislators, community leaders and families, realized what is possible, when everyone is focused on the same goal - to strengthen families and to empower residents and communities.
The Center, located at 1100 Woodruff Ave., Hillside, NJ, is a place where prosperity for residents is no longer a notion but rather, a reality. Thanks to funding from the Wilf Family Foundation, United Way of Greater Union County will remain at the forefront, by insuring the services provided are tailor-made to the specific needs of Hillside families.
Those in attendance cited the merits and need for the center. Parent and Hillside resident, Tyrese Outlew, happily exclaimed, “I am really looking forward to the Family Fun Nights and Parent Education workshops. This is a working class neighborhood and a lot of our families need information and services, as well as programs that support our role as parents. I’m excited this is here.”
Joining the many residents and community members, in attendance were NJ State Senator Ray Lesniak, Former Roselle Mayor and Assemblyman Jamel Holley, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Union County Freeholder Chairman Mohamad Jalloh, Union County Freeholder Sergio Granados, UWGUC Board member and Elizabeth Councilwoman-at-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste, UWGUC Board Member Larry J. Lockhart, UWGUC Board Member Kevin Phoenix and Hillside Superintendent Frank Deo.
The Hillside Family Success Center offers a menu of services, including:
Advocacy for Family Services
Adult Reading Literacy Workshops
Assistance with applications for NJ Family Care, Food Stamp and other services
Employment Assistance Workshops
Family Fun Night
Health (Confidential Testing / Pharmacy Discount Cards)
Information and Referral Services
Life Skills Training (Nutrition, Budgeting, etc.)
Parent Education Support
Parent /Youth Advisory Council
Pregnancy/HIV Discreet Testing
Teen /Youth Mentoring
Teen Parent Support