Did you know that there are thousands of non-profit or 501(c)(3) organizations across Monmouth County: from parent-teacher organizations, garden clubs, and fraternal organizations, to hospitals, social service agencies, and local chapters of national organizations. Non-profit staffs and volunteers work tirelessly to fulfill their organizations’ missions by advocating, educating, and raising funds that are essential to creating and sustaining programs and services that help people, save animals, provide food, preserve history, protect the environment, provide information so others can make informed decisions, and so much more. While the causes are varied, non-profits exist to address unmet societal needs. They are an essential part of a thriving community and they encourage us to think beyond our own wants and needs and about what it could possibly be like to struggle endlessly to achieve the things many of us take for granted, such a stable home, food, health and safety. Without non-profits we are lost. With them we are able to contribute to making our world a better place.
Giving is personal. If you’ve lost a loved one to a disease, you may feel an affinity towards an organization that does medical research. If you know someone whose home was destroyed in a flood or fire, you may donate to an organization that helps rebuild devastated communities. Or maybe you are loyal to your alma mater, and so you support your alumni association. Sometimes, however, we are asked to give to help people with whom we have nothing in common or know little about. Often these individuals live right in our own towns and are elderly or disabled, home bound, and do not have the financial resources to get the help they need. They depend on assistance from non-profit organizations in order to live safely and with dignity.
Take Jake for instance.
Jake has a developmental disability and has worked for the same employer since he was 18-years-old. He lived in an apartment, with a non-relative, in an area with a gang and drug presence. Over time, Jake’s roommate manipulated him into giving her his entire pay check every pay day even though the roommate received housing assistance and had few expenses. This left Jake with none of the money he had earned. Jake’s co-workers began to notice that he was sleeping outside and that he often came to work with black eyes. Then men started showing up in Jake’s workplace parking lot to collect his paycheck on pay days. Very concerned for his welfare, Jake’s co-workers contacted Adult Protective Services at FCS and social workers began an investigation. APS investigates cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults 18 years and older living in the community.
Understandably, Jake was frightened and intimidated and was hesitant to accept help. But social workers convinced him to move out of the shared apartment and then helped him get his own place. They also had a trustworthy person accompany him when he went to pay his first month’s rent and set up utility accounts. Because he was afraid to return to his old apartment to retrieve his belongings, FCS staff and Board donated and collected items for his new home. Now Jake is living safely on his own – something that would not have been possible without his co-workers’ concern and APS intervention.
Jake’s story may move you to think more about people who are vulnerable – people who try hard to manage on their own but sometimes need family, neighbors, co-workers and non-profit organizations to support and guide them. No matter what cause you believe in, whether it’s helping someone like Jake, keeping the ocean clean, preventing homelessness, or one of the myriad other causes you can choose support – make it personal, make it your cause, and give to it with your wholehearted time, talent and treasure.