Happy Fall everyone! We at FCS are looking forward to the change of season, especially in light of a very challenging summer. Last month over the Labor Day holiday weekend, a plumbing failure caused more than 33,000 gallons of water to flow continuously throughout our office building, flooding hallways, the kitchen, Board room, server room, several offices and our reception area. Water also seeped through the floor into the basement, saturating storage boxes and destroying our master phone board. We are most grateful that the water didn’t flood other sections of the building where the majority of our offices are located. As many of you know, we are also recovering from a fire on July 7 in the building where our thrift shop was located temporarily shuttering the business, so more than one person has observed that following fire and flood, we should be awaiting the Biblical plague of locusts!
I was on vacation the week of the flooding without easy access to return to NJ or to be in contact with our Staff. Their teamwork was exceptional at every level. They maintained services to our clients despite the limited use of the building and cooperated with each other in good humor to ensure that everyone had the resources to continue working. Their flexibility continues as we work to restore those sections of the building.
We read frequently of the lessons learned in the face of adversity, not only of what arises from within oneself to cope and move forward, but also of the generosity that emerges from within the community. Woodhaven Lumber & Millwork, which has been extraordinarily generous to FCS, is working with us on all the necessary construction, repairs, painting, etc. to restore the building and we can’t begin to express our thanks enough for the support of Alan and David Robinson, Operations Manager Louis Caruso and the team they have put together to help us. Louis has even recruited friends to voluntarily repair problems unrelated to the flood. We are also especially grateful to FCS Board member Donna Robinson who swiftly scooped up all of the October 29th Leading Lights Gala invitations in the Board room and coordinated from home the addressing and note writing that accompanies them for that important event. Hopefully many of you have received your invites and plan to attend.
In the meantime we continue to serve our vulnerable neighbors. This year we have an unprecedented increase in the number of referrals to our Adult Protective Services (APS) program, which investigates abuse, neglect and exploitation of people over age 18, and a record of 50 cases in August. In addition, the number of cases requiring a guardian be appointed for clients has increased from 10 cases in 2015 to 20 to date. With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day and people living longer, these trends are of great concern.
When the school year started in September, our volunteers went back in school, too. Our Retired Senior Volunteer Program provides more than 300 volunteers to our community with many contributing their time and caring through three FCS programs: Reading Buddies, Healthy Buddies and the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP). 200+ Reading Buddies share their love of literature each week by reading to kindergarten and first-grade children in 18 lower performing public schools while Healthy Buddies educate third and fourth graders in five schools about the benefits of good nutrition, healthy choices, and regular exercise. During the past school year, Reading and Healthy Buddies worked with 1870 children. SHIP volunteers counsel people over age 65 about the range of options with Medicare and our 19 counselors will be busiest during Medicare Open Enrollment from October 15 – December 7. In 2015 they helped 1500 people with those decisions as well as referring them to other programs that could assist them.
FCS began in 1909 by providing Christmas gifts for families in Long Branch, the forbearer of our current holiday gift-giving program, Operation Sleighbells. On September 30 we completed registration for 2016 and we are on course to serve a record number of 600 families this year. We are very grateful for your generosity and support of our families and invite you to contact us at 732.222.9111 if you, your family and/or your business colleagues would like to sponsor a family, donate toys, or volunteer.
Delly Beekman, FCS CEO