Hundreds of Monmouth County families enjoyed a brighter holiday season in 2017, thanks in part to area families, businesses and organizations who partnered with Family & Children’s Service (FCS) to support Operation Sleighbells. The agency’s annual holiday giving program provided thousands of donated toys, books, coats, pajamas and infant necessities to more than 1,700 children in need, including 400 children served by child protection programs in central and southern Monmouth County. Read more “Operation Sleighbells provides gifts for 1,700 children”
Tyshon Woods is an inspiration to everyone who knows him. Born with multiple developmental disabilities and raised in the foster care system from the age of five, Tyshon overcame numerous challenges to become the person he is today, a confidant high school graduate with a reliable job, stable living environment and an unabashed enthusiasm for his passion: the martial arts.
“I have been studying karate a long time at BKG Academy in Long Branch,” Tyshon explains. “I go twice a week after work and every time I earn a belt, they say, Tyshon, want to start studying for the next one? This year I earned my Brown Belt. They make me keep going. They are really great!”
But despite Tyshon’s considerable achievements, his disability prevents him from leading a fully independent life. Tyshon relies on support from programs such as FCS’s Representative Payee (RepPayee) to keep him safe and avoid potential homelessness.
“Tyshon is an example of someone who was born into not great circumstance, but has been brave enough to try new things,” explains FCS RepPayee Director Sue Thiers. “He’s such a pleasure to work with and I am so glad we’ve been able to help him pursue his interests by giving him some financial stability.”
As a designated Organizational RepPayee, FCS provides financial management services to more than 1,000 Social Security beneficiaries in New Jersey and throughout the country who, like Tyshon, are incapable of managing their own funds due to significant mental, developmental or physical disabilities. Clients are referred to the RepPayee program from a variety of sources, including state and local hospitals, mental health agencies, families and caseworkers. Once a referral is received, Sue and her team of just three support staff work closely with the client and his or her caseworker to prepare a budget that maximizes their funds and ensures that their monthly expenses are covered.
“It works like a triage system,” Sue explains. “We give housing the highest priority, then money for utilities, food, clothing, and daily activities. If there is money left over after the bills are paid, we will disperse funds dependent on a client’s needs.”
Sue says even reluctant clients eventually appreciate the program because it takes some of the stress out of their already challenging lives. While most must remain in the program indefinitely due to the nature of their disabilities, some clients do graduate and live independently again.
“One of our clients was on the verge of homeless,” Sue recalls. “With our help and her own determination, she was able to get her life back on track. Now she has a home, a job, and is learning to pay her own bills. There are success stories!”
Sue says the need for RepPayee continues to grow and with more resources, she hopes to reach even more people like Tyshon.
For Tyshon, RepPayee has been a lifesaver. “Sue and the rest of the people in her office, they keep an eye out for me. They always make sure I have money for Karate lessons. They know how much that means to me.”
If you would like to help others like Tyshon, please consider a donation to FCS this Giving Tuesday, Tuesday, November 28th. We appreciate any support than you can give!
Mark your calendar for Thursday, November 16, 2017 and please join us at J.Crew in The Grove in Shrewsbury for a special holiday shopping event to benefit FCS! For one day only, Thursday, November 16th, from 11 am until 8 pm, you, your family and friends will enjoy an exclusive 20% off your purchases of $125 or more. A portion of the sales proceeds from the day will be donated to FCS to support agency programs and services. Last year, the FCS Holiday Shopping Event raised more than $7,000 for FCS. For additional information, contact FCS Development Director Diane Gribbin at email@example.com.
With the holidays fast approaching, FCS is asking for your help in granting the holiday wishes of nearly 2,000 area children in need. The agency is collecting donations of new children’s coats, hats, gloves, toys, books, gift cards and infant necessities through Wednesday, December 13th for its holiday giving program, Operation Sleighbells.
“Our agency was started 108 years ago on the premise that no one should feel forgotten during the holidays, especially children,” explains FCS CEO Delly Beekman. “Operation Sleighbells continues that tradition by bringing the community together to make the season brighter for our neighbors in need. Granting the holiday wish of a child may not seen like much, but for the child who might not otherwise receive a gift, or the parent who cannot provide one, it’s everthing.”
Operation Sleighbells is different from many holiday programs in that it addresses the specific wishes of every child. Participating families are interviewed in early October and asked to provide the ages, sizes and gift wishes for each child. Using the lists, the agency then collects, organizes, sorts and distributes thousands of gifts to hundreds of families each year.
FCS Director of Volunteer Services Samantha White says Operation Sleighbells is an enormous undertaking that requires more than 5,000 square feet of off-site space. “For the past several years, we have been fortunate that Monmouth Racetrack has allowed us to use a portion of their Oceanport facilities to conduct Operation Sleighbells,” Samantha explains. “Without their donation of space, we would be forced to greatly reduce the number of families we serve.”
The program also relies on the generosity of dozens of corporations, businesses, schools, churches, families and other organizations who donate gifts to the program or volunteer. Karen Pennington with West Ward Pharmaceuticals in Eatontown is in charge of organizing her company’s collection drive each year. “Of all the programs we participate in each year, this is the dearest to our heart,” Karen says. In five years, West Ward has helped fulfill the holiday wishes of more than 800 area children.
If you are interested in supporting Operation Sleighbells, there are a number of ways to help:
- Sponsor a Family – Provide toys, gifts, coats and perhaps a supermarket gift card to enable an entire family to have a special holiday meal.
- Host a collection drive at work, school, or organization — FCS will provide tags listing the first name of a participating child with his or her age, size and holiday wish. Employees or group members can then select a tag and buy a gift for that particular child.
- Donate gifts – FCS gladly accepts new, unwrapped coats, books, toys and other gifts and will sort and distribute them based on the needs of those registered for the program.
- Donate money to purchase gift cards for teenagers – Donations can be made online or mailed to the agency.
- Volunteer – Volunteer to help sort and pack gifts.
For more information about Operation Sleighbells and how you can help, call us at 732-222-9111.
Medicare Open Enrollment, the period of time when eligible Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their health and prescription drug coverage plans without penalty, began on October 15th. Seniors and other eligible beneficiaries who have questions about their Medicare options for 2018 are encouraged to contact our agency to schedule a free, confidential appointment with a qualified State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor. Read more “Medicare Open Enrollment is Underway! Are you Ready?”
FCS is proud to honor former FCS Board Chair Dolores Klein, long-time Board member Donald Bush and the philanthropic rock group, The Docs of Rock, at our 2017 FCS Leading Lights Gala, Saturday, October 14 at Navesink Country Club in Middletown, NJ. The Honorees are being recognized for their tireless advocacy on behalf of the agency, its Mission and those we serve.
“This year’s honorees demonstrate the very best in our community,” FCS Board Chair Paul Stach explains “Individuals willing to commit their time and resources to improve the lives of others. We are honored to be the recipient of their longstanding generosity and enduring kindness.” Read more “Leading Lights Gala to Honor Dolores Klein, Donald Bush and the Docs of Rock”
THANK YOU to the more than 100 golfers who turned out to support FCS at our 2017 FCS Golf Classic on Monday, July 24th at Deal Golf & Country Club. The event, co-chaired by FCS Board members Anthony Frigoletto and Mark Stoll, is expected to raise more than $40,000 to support FCS’ fourteen diverse programs and services that assist people in need throughout Monmouth County.
Join us on Monday, July 24th at Deal Golf and Country Club, for our 2017 FCS Golf Classic. Registration is underway for the annual outing, which kicks off with a barbeque-style lunch and concludes with an evening cocktail reception, dinner and awards ceremony. Registration fees for this year’s event are $420 for individual golfers and $1,650 for a Foursome. Sponsorship opportunities, which include signage on the course, acknowledgement in the event program and recognition through publicity and social media, are also available. Contact Diane Gribbin firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-222-9111