New Destiny is proud to share our success stories
Lack of access to food amongst seniors has been an issue of concern for New Destiny Family Success Center. Working with the senior population in the city of Paterson, within our Mobile Senior Success Center, has increased our understanding of the needs and hopes of the elderly. According to Seniorcare.com, “The median household income for a Paterson senior is $21,318.” Furthermore, “4.9 million seniors are food insecure,” (FeedingAmerica.org). We imagined how difficult it is for the average Paterson senior to cover monthly household expenses, and still have money left for food. After a meeting with one of our partners, a miracle happened! We found out about CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program offered by the Community Food Bank of NJ) which provides a two-week supply of groceries to seniors who meet qualification guidelines. In three short weeks, our Mobile Senior Success Center screened and signed up 71 senior residents at one of the 6 Paterson Housing Senior Sites. 71 senior families are now receiving a two-week supply of food every month! That is what we call a blessing; One of the stories that impacted us, while the applications were being taken for the program, was one where the senior’s qualifying income was two hundred dollars over the limit for monthly income. Imagine for a moment, with the cost of food today, $200 dollars is not enough. Thankfully, he will receive a box of food every month, after qualifying for the program. Moreover, our Mobile Senior Success Center Coordinator, JR, is looking into increasing the number of seniors that can participate in the program. August’s Success Story brings warmth to our hearts! Taking care of our seniors in the Paterson Community brings us happiness! They have given so much to their families, and to our society, they deserve to be cared for, loved, and aided. Our Mobile Senior Success Center is not only an enrichment program that provides workshops, programming, and referrals. It brings help in times of need, hope in times of despair, and joy in times of sadness.
Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors (AP/OD) is an evidenced-based curriculum for parents of children 0-5 which New Destiny has offered for the past 4 years. Its main focus is to emphasize the role of parents as their child’s first teacher! As of December, of last year, we trained the most parents, acknowledging 88 parents with certificates of completion. Moreover, many professionals from organizations such as, Oasis, 4C’s, Greater Bergen CAP, and Family Workers from various early learning centers participated in our train the trainer sessions. As an incentive, there was a big prize: “A Trip to Sesame Place,” for the center/school which trained the most parents. NDFSC and BJ Wilkerson Early Learning Center were the winners! A total of 16 families along with their children enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at Sesame Place. One of the families that came to the trip had just arrived from Africa the year before. When asked for their feedback, they stated, “It was too much fun. Great opportunity for our family. My children enjoyed it a lot. It was our first time being there and it could not have happened a better way!” Other families said, “It gave me more time to spend with my children. My children interacted more with me and forgot all about electronics or anything on the outside.” “I had a great time. My child is talking about this trip nonstop.” “Staff and everyone were respectful.” “I wish we can take another trip like this in the future. It was all about the moment and time we were spending there!” Making a difference in the community is what New Destiny strives to accomplish every day. Most families that attended this wonderful trip do not have the means to afford it. They were grateful and happy to spend time with their children. Opening Doors, as the name says, opened doors of possibilities to these families that will always be remembers. Parents and grandparents acquired tools to be not only their children’s first teachers, but their advocates, and ambassadors. As AP/OD ambassadors, they will share their knowledge with others in the community, which will impact the lives of our future generation.
June 2019 success story brings us joy and pride. One of our youth volunteers, whom was nominated for the Martin Luther King Award hosted annually by NJCDC is our success story of the month. RC has shown growth in many areas in her time of volunteer work at New Destiny Family Success Center. She is always open to learn, and to give a helping hand when needed. Her maturity and charisma have brought happiness to the lives of all that have had the pleasure to meet her. The first question that comes out of R C’ s mouth whenever she enters New Destiny Family Success Center is: “How can I help?” Having her as our youth volunteer is an honor. Her love for this community drives her to work hard, and to be a positive role model to other youth. Before she left for vacation, she came into New Destiny Family Success Center to give us the great news! She was awarded the Academic Excellence Award, “which only one out of 10 students are chosen for this award,” and she received it along with a scholarship of $500 dollars!! RC is not only making a difference in our community, but in her personal and academic development. New Destiny Family Success Center honors her as our June Success Story, not only for her volunteer work, but for her academic achievements.
The Extra Mile Award is hosted every year by the Paterson Alliance in the City Paterson to recognize volunteers, staff, and other individuals that go above and beyond their roles in the community. Paterson Alliance is a networking organization made up of over 70 members, many of whom run non-profit organizations. Current Mayor Andre Sayegh, former Executive Director of Paterson Alliance, introduced the award idea in 2007. As a result, the first Extra Mile Award Luncheon was hosted at the Brownstone in the city of Paterson. May’s success story is one that we, at New Destiny Family Success Center are excited to share! For the first time, in the history of the Extra Mile Awards Luncheon, “a couple is honored for their volunteer work.” Mr. E and Ms. G have volunteered their time in various ways at NDFSC. For over six years they have given their time to help others. Moreover, they have been active members of NDFSC’s Community Advisory Board, since it was founded. What makes their work extra special? It is their passion for the community which has been passed down to their children. Every time there is an opportunity to help in any way, whether it is organizing the tables, chairs, helping children with their arts and crafts, their kids offer helping hands. Moreover, Mr. E and Ms. G take advantage of most educational workshops that benefit not only them, but their family. Mr. E, Ms. G, and their family are examples of love, passion, and dedication in our community. At New Destiny FSC we believe their story is not only a success, but an example for others to follow.
April’s success story has won our hearts. Mr. M is a single dad with custody of two young children, an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. Unfortunately, because of being a single father, he was forced to leave his job. He did not have anyone to take care of his children, while he was working. As a result, he became homeless. We have been working closely with Mr. M to find him a place to stay. Sadly, in Passaic County, there are not shelters that will admit men with children. In some circumstances, children and parents are separated from each other. Mr. M could not even consider the idea of being separated from his children. He consistently looked day and night for anyone that could help him resolve his situation. Most programs that are available, he did not qualify for, because he is currently receiving unemployment benefits. New Destiny Family Success Center told Mr. M to apply for housing assistance, and any other emergency assistance programs. He was rejected from all of them. BOOMER! Now, we had a man out on the streets of Paterson with two children with no place to stay. We exhausted all our resources, and even went outside of Passaic County looking for any organization that will help this family.
Our executive director made a direct contact with Passaic County Board of Social Services to inquire about services available for Mr. M’s family. The board of Social Services along with Human Services of Passaic County worked together to find this single father some options. We were able to have them revised his case, which he was originally denied for. Mr. M received a temporary placement at a family shelter and is now receiving some monetary temporary funds. Fortunately, these funds will assist with his current housing condition. As soon as Mr. M goes back to work, rent subsidy will be available for him! This family will be given access to resources that were once denied, thanks to the collaborative effort from our partners.
As the Mobile Senior Success Center Coordinator, Ms. R shared with us a wonderful story we believe should be our March 2019 success story. In her own words, this is what occurred: “During my first week as the New Destiny Mobile Success Center Coordinator, I met Mr. M at one of the Paterson Senior buildings. He was a friendly and funny man, who I did not understand at times because of his Italian accent. He made an appointment with me to apply for the cooling application. After missing his first one, he called the center hoping to get assistance. As a result, I decided to go see him the following day one on one to fill out the paperwork needed for it. During my time with him, he shared a lot about himself. He told me he had lost his wife a few years ago, and that living alone has been hard for him. I empathized with him and listened attentively. Once we completed the application, we talked a little bit more, and he shared his wisdom on life, and how you must cherish the moments you have with your loved ones. There is not one day that he does not miss his wife. When I was gathering my things to go, he embraced me in a hug, and told me he was grateful and thankful for me. Moreover, he stated that I was doing an amazing job! At that moment, I felt so much reward in having made the time to come help Mr. M with his application. Moreover, being there to listen to him made me realize of the purpose of our work.” Being able to assist the senior population in the city of Paterson is our main goal as the mobile program! Many times, all they need is someone that listens to them!! Today, we say with confidence that New Destiny Family Success center gives a hand to the needy, an ear to the forgotten, and hope to all generations.
Immigration has been one of the most controversial topics in our current government administration. Building a wall has been one of the president’s top priorities, which has created an atmosphere of fear among immigrants. February's success story touches us since it is happening regularly in our community. Nonetheless, this story has a happy ending. Ms. C came from the Dominican Republic over 5 years ago and unfortunately, her mom passed away one year after relocating to the United States. Her mother had very aggressive cervical cancer. Moreover, her aunt also died of cancer recently. Her biggest fear was that she had not gone to a doctor to be screened for cancer, since she does not have health insurance. She was afraid to seek assistance due to her legal status. One Sunday afternoon, a New Destiny FSC staff was off the clock running personal errands. MS. C was told that the staff member worked at New Destiny Family Success Center and that she might be able to help her. Ms. C called New Destiny the next day and spoke with that same staff member who referred her to Rainbows of Hope, an organization out of St. Joseph’s Hospital who does free cancer screenings. Within two days, her appointments were scheduled for a Mammogram and PaP. A 44-year-old single woman without health insurance was seen for free! Furthermore, in the process of being checked, other health issues were discovered which are currently being treated. One organization that has been hosting cancer awareness workshops at New Destiny connected her to the right specialists and resources that were needed to give her the best care. New Destiny Family Success Center is not just a Hub for resources!... It is the place that connects the dots to make sure every individual is assisted and connected.
New Destiny Family Success Center has received support of many organizations. They have come to our center throughout the year to offer a variety of services, workshops, and health screenings to the Paterson community. One of those services is health insurance. An Italian working family has been struggling to make ends meet for the past five years. After the passing of the father and provider of this family, a crisis arose. Income was limited, the basic needs were scarce. The youngest daughter, Ms. M was holding three jobs to support her mother, brother, and nephews. Moreover, two years after the death of the provider of this family, the son commits suicide. Just imagine for a moment the pain and struggle of this family. The father figure was not present to support and care for the family, and the only male left that took over the father’s role ended his life. For this family, all hope was lost. Now, with two small children, and a sick mother, Ms. M had to work even harder. Instead of three jobs, she had four. Three work shifts, and the 4th one, and most difficult one, taking care of her mother and nephews on her own. One of her biggest challenges was her mother’s medical expenses. Every month for the past five years, she was spending between $300-500 dollars on her meds. In a cry of desperation to a friend, she was told of New Destiny Family Success Center. One of the health insurance providers was able to connect her to the right representative to look over her mom’s medical insurance and benefits. After waiting for few weeks, she received the great news! Her mom qualified to receive PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged & Disabled). Her mom’s monthly medication expense is only $13.00 a month!!! Ms. M was crying at the pharmacy, when she was told how much she had to pay. She could not believe it!!! January’s success story shows the importance of being the hub of resources for not only our community members in the city of Paterson, but other families living in other towns. Through collaboration and connections, we were able to bring relief to a family’s financial crisis. Today, Ms. M donates to our center whenever she can. She believes in the work we do and hopes to help others. She stated that we open doors to a bright path, when all seemed dark and hopeless.
New destiny Family Success Center has been part of the Self-Portrait initiative for two years. In December 2018, NDFSC had the pleasure to host it for the 3rd time. Our center opened its doors to the Emergence Church and Lighthouse to provide space. Moreover, NDFSC staff assisted over 30 volunteers in hosting this event to make sure it was a complete success. Over 80 families gathered to have their pictures taken this holiday season. Food, entertainment, live music, and a family portrait made UNSELFIE 2018 an unforgettable day for all families that attended this magical event! Furthermore, make-up artists and hair stylists made sure all women looked stunning for their Christmas picture. Every family left with a smile! This holiday season, we wanted to center it around family, not toys. Our goal has been to bring a sense of gratefulness, and unity to our community. Every person that came to this event felt the spirit of Love, Joy, and Peace. We are thankful for the volunteers, staff, and donors that make this event possible. They have brought to the Paterson Community access to a service that many of them cannot afford. A free family portrait that will remain in their homes forever.
As we approach the holidays, November is one of the busiest months of the year, gathering donations, organizing events, and making sure all our families are provided with a Thanksgiving meal. November’s success story goes beyond providing a meal. A local area church joined with New Destiny FSC to bring Thanksgiving blessings to over 100 families in the form of frozen prepared Thanksgiving meals from ShopRite. They raised a total of $3,500 to respond to the need. The miracle was that these funds were raised in two weeks’ time and 18 individuals volunteered to hand deliver two dozen Thanksgiving meals door to door two days before the holiday. Volunteers had multiple opportunities to connect with families, especially those they met door-to-door. One story which lingered in the minds of our volunteers involved a mother of two, who had just left her abusive partner. After welcoming the small team of three volunteers into her home and receiving the boxed Thanksgiving meal, she broke down in tears as she thanked them for coming. She shared her story of escaping an abusive relationship and expressed thankfulness that she has been overwhelmed having to provide for her two children. The gift of the meal was a sign that she was not alone in her struggles and she had good reason to be grateful and not stressed about her future. Her story is one of the many stories that happened throughout the year at New Destiny Family Success Center. Nonetheless, without the collaboration of all our partner organizations, churches, and volunteers, success stories like this one would not be possible.
New Destiny Family Success Centers Inc. was chosen as the lead agency to assist the First Lady Tammy Murphy on hosting the first Family Festival in the city of Paterson New Jersey. First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Initiative to prevent Black-Infant Mortality inspired her to host a family festival. Making resources available at one convenient spot allowed families to participate, inquire about benefits, and get connected. African American women in New Jersey are five times more likely to die due to pregnancy complications than Caucasian Women. Furthermore, our state ranks 45th in maternal deaths according to the United Health Foundation. On October 14, 2018 at the Senator Frank Lautenberg Public School (Formerly known as School #6) was privileged to facilitate the family gathering event. Over 60 vendors were at the school to provide services, give out information and link families to benefits. Government officials were present, including our current Mayor, Andre Sayegh, Community Policing, and the firefighters. There were free hot dogs, drinks, and over 150 raffles, including baskets and gift cards, all donated to bless families. 164 attendees benefited from a variety of services, all in one location. Over 2800 people were connected on site. The children participated in face painting, and other activities. Music, games, and the presence of all organizations and government officials made this festival an unforgettable event! After reviewing the surveys and feedback given by all vendors and families, everyone agreed on one answer, “Family Festivals should be hosted more often.” The First Lady Tammy Murphy was so pleased with the response of the community that the next Family Festival is already being planned to be hosted in a neighboring city.
New Destiny Family Success Center is always open to collaborate with other organizations for the benefit of our community. September’s success story is about our partnership with Affordable Housing Alliance, an energy assistance program. September 2018 is our one-year anniversary as an affiliate agency. Many families have been able to receive a financial relief with this program. New Destiny is the only organization in Passaic County currently processing applications. So far, we have served 99 families with a benefit amount totaling in $73,635.93. In one year, we have helped close to 100 families that were at risk of having their lights and gas shut-off. In many instances the participants had already been shut-off but through team work and collaboration with our partner we were able to assist them. Imagine the desperation of these working families, some of them with children who have disabilities. Our partnership with this organization enables us to prevent and give hope in a midst of a difficult situation by providing immediate assistance to these families in crisis.
August’s success story is what we have called 3 miracles in one. Our first miracle was a grant awarded to our center to work with the senior population. For many months, the executive director and staff at Paterson FSC have discussed different ways to help seniors. Most of the elderly come to our programs for services such as translation, nutrition classes, ESL, and many other workshops. Nonetheless, resources have been limited to implement other programs designed to assist seniors. On August 14th, 2018, our executive director, Carolyn McCombs was notified that the grant she had applied for (Paterson Housing Authority’s Resident Opportunity & Self Sufficiency Service from the Department of Housing and Urban Development) was granted to New Destiny Family Success Center! We overflowed with joy! For so long we have wanted to reach out to our senior population. This grant enables us to serve them through our newly developed “Mobile Family Success Center”! Our second miracle was our backpack giveaway. Last year, we were able to give away 60 in total. This year, that amount more than doubled. Over 140 children received backpacks thanks to our partners. Finally, our third miracle was saved for last. Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) chose to visit to our center as her first stop in a series of “listening tours” she is conducting. In an informal gathering of parents in our monthly “Café con Leche” support group, Commissioner Beyer was able to chat informally with our families. They spoke freely about how they have benefitted from our Family Success Center and shared how the department has assisted with other behavioral health needs and concerns. They also shared a few ideas around outreach and expanding awareness about DCF and the innumerable ways families can receive support. New Destiny Family Success Center is a place where dreams and hopes become a reality. August Success stories are proof that miracles do happen, when you believe.
July’s success story revolves around family! Our success story portrays how collaboration and team work are vital to guarantee a successful family event. New Destiny Family Success Center with the support of the Global Peace Foundation, Paterson Community Policing, Paterson Fire Department, New Destiny board members, staff and volunteers made our Family Movie Night one of the most memorable events in our community. Our first movie night held at Lou Costello Park brought together over 50 families with their children. A night of games, food, and our featured movie “Black Panther” made it magical for all. Among the feedback received from attendees was “family bonding and bringing the community together.” They truly reflect who we are as a Family Success Center, a place where hope is restored. Many of our families do not have the resources to go to the movies or may not feel safe when attending local events. The Community Policing and the Fire Department along with all volunteers and staff made this event not only a successful one, but a safe one.
We had a successful Black History Month here at New Destiny Family Success Center. We learned about the numerous aspects of Black culture in a variety of ways. We tried different foods, cooked by volunteers that were delighted to share their family’s recipes with the community. Moreover, children and parents learned about Black history, and were able to experience and learn some of the dances from within the culture! It’s always important to learn about and empower our African-American community, and we made sure to have fun while doing it as well. As the month has ended, we are happy to look back at our success and learning experiences in Black History Month! Nonetheless, the good news does not step there.
Another success story for New Destiny Family Success Center! Carolyn McCombs, New Destiny’s Executive Director was asked by a team of her peers to lead a city-wide initiative focused on countering violence and extremism in the Paterson community. This was precipitated by a foundation called Global Peace Foundation which identified three cities in the state of New Jersey (Camden, Jersey City and Paterson) to engage communities around the risks of violence and strategies for connecting with resources to counteract the risks. GPI is a worldwide organization focused on cross community engagement, building trust, identifying risk factors, and countering violence and extremism. They are funding five community engagement events in all three target cities over the next year with the purpose of gathering residents, exposing them to the myriad of resources in the community and building trust with law enforcement. In the wake of the tragedy at Parkland High School, incident a
Our February’s success story truly demonstrates the importance of Family Success Centers. One of our participants suffers from schizophrenia. Mr. B. came in to inquire on how to apply for disability. Due to his condition, he is not able to find work He has experienced discrimination due to his mental illness. One day, he confided in one of our family partners that he had been robbed recently, and that all his personal documentation was stolen. He was not able to apply for disability without them. He attended a few of our legal aid workshops, but what really motivated him to follow up and get his personal documentation back was our family partner’s persistence. Today, Mr. B. is in the process of getting all his documents in order, and legal services of New Jersey is assisting him with his disability application. He comes every week to thanks us for all the help and support he has received at our center. Living with mental illness is not easy. As we know, there is a stigma attached to it; nonetheless, we assist and welcome individuals like him to our center with open arms.
Our Success Story for January 2017 is centered around Ms. H., who came to our agency in need of financial support with her energy bills. As a single mother working two jobs, her income level disqualified her from many of the programs dedicated to extremely low income individuals. Between working two jobs, and caring for her young child, Ms. H. found little time to procure assistance for herself. After some research, the staff at New Destiny FSC identified the TRUE and PAGE grants. Through contact with the program director, we were able to guide Ms. H. through the application process. Much to our delight, Ms. H. was able to qualify for assistance, and get her lights turned on. Being able to help Ms. H. as she pursues a better life for her family was a truly gratifying experience – it is the very reason why we do what we do.