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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Young Mother Helped by Nurse Family Partnership Program

Women who are pregnant with their first child can now receive regular visits from a nurse in the privacy of their own home through the Nurse Family Partnership program offered by Project Self-Sufficiency.  Eligible, first-time mothers of all ages are paired with a nurse who visits them throughout the pregnancy and up until the child’s second birthday.  The voluntary program, which was started in upstate New York in the 1970’s, has been adopted in 42 states, and was recently launched in Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon Counties.  The initiative is one of three different home visitation programs for young mothers which is provided by Project Self-Sufficiency to families in northwestern New Jersey.

The visiting nurses provide support, education and counseling on health, behavioral and self-sufficiency issues.  Our goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes, and to assist parents with improving early childhood development, while helping the family to move towards economic self-sufficiency,” explains Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “All of the home visitation programs offered by Project Self-Sufficiency are designed to empower mothers to be the best parents they can be.”

Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is one the most rigorously tested programs of its kind.  Randomized controlled trials conducted over the past 30 years demonstrate multi-generational outcomes for families and their communities.  Mothers and children who have participated in the program have consistently demonstrated significantly improved prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, increased maternal employment, improved child school readiness, reduced involvement in crime, and less child abuse, neglect and injuries.

“The visits leading up to the birth focus on preparing for labor and delivery, how to recognize labor and delivery, what is a danger sign or what needs to be reported immediately so that mother and child are in the safest possible spot,” explains Nurse Supervisor Darlene O’Connell, who oversees the team of nurses at Project Self-Sufficiency and is responsible for community outreach.  “When appropriate, we emphasize the importance of breast-feeding immediately.” 

A large part of each visit with the client is spent on counseling.  Nurse Inka Adenuga meets regularly with 16-year-old Jyniah King, who gave birth to her son August nearly four months ago.  The two were paired up by the Nurse Family Partnership program when Jyniah was ten weeks pregnant.  During their early visits, Adenuga spent a lot of time helping King to deal with stress and the social issues that accompany a teen pregnancy.  “I love Inka,” King says emphatically.  “I am not a people person and I don’t have a lot of friends, but I can talk to her about a lot of stuff.  She helped me with coping with being pregnant.  I was exhausted and under a lot of stress.  Most new mothers think that they know it all.  That’s how I was.  But it’s good to learn new things.”

King attended high school every day until her son’s birth.  She kept up with her studies while recovering from childbirth and is now on track to complete her coursework ahead of schedule.  She has aspirations of attending law school one day.  “To be a mother is a full-time job, and to combine that with school, and to still be ahead, is great,” notes Adenuga, who added that King not only nursed her child exclusively for four months, but is also an attentive parent who is eager to learn and is very appreciative of the support she has received.  “I commend her for all of that.”

Project Self-Sufficiency was founded in 1986 with the goal of providing housing assistance to local low-income women. Since then the agency has grown to provide an array of services aimed primarily at low-income families.  Programs include career guidance, computer training, help with obtaining a GED, parenting skills classes, legal assistance and education, financial workshops, health education, childcare and family activities.  The agency offers help around the holidays, formal dresses during prom season, and assistance with emergency basic needs, such as food and clothing to its participants.  Most services are free and many are open to the public. 

Those who are interested in learning more about the Nurse-Family Partnership, or any of the other programs offered at Project Self-Sufficiency, are encouraged to call 973-940-3500, or visit

Free Advice about Divorce

Anne Gacquin, Esquire, will offer a free Family Law Seminar at Project Self-Sufficiency on Wednesday, May 6th, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Learn about court procedures, grounds for divorce, alimony, parenting time, equitable distribution of assets and other topics related to divorce.  Free and open to the public; registration required.  Call 973-940-3500 to register.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Workforce Training Program Assists Women along the Path to Success

Low income women who may be interested in working in an office setting are invited to fine-tune their expertise or learn new skills through the Higher Opportunities for Women employment skills training program at Project Self-Sufficiency.  The intensive program combines computer training with coursework in life skills and workplace etiquette, culminating in on-the-job experience in a local workplace.  Graduates leave the program prepared to launch a new career as an entry-level administrative assistant.  An abbreviated version of the HOW program, Summer Office Skills, will be offered beginning July 7th.  Open Houses about the Summer Office Skills program have been scheduled for June.  Interested participants are encouraged to contact the agency to register.

Project Self-Sufficiency participant Joan Towle is now employed as one of the part-time receptionists at senior living facility Bristol Glen as a result, in part, of the skills she picked up in the HOW   Over the years, Towle has taken advantage of many of the services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, including the food pantry and the Working Women’s Wardrobe, a program which provides free workplace attire to agency participants.  Towle completed a medical receptionist course at Sussex County Community College, carrying a full course load while working overnight at Bristol Glen.  Towle sought out the HOW program at Project Self-Sufficiency in order to learn computing skills.  “Through the HOW program, I learned about Microsoft Word and Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.  I learned self-esteem and job search skills.”  Towle enjoyed her externship placement at Compassionate Care Hospice.  “It was good to be involved in the workforce.”  Towle’s long-term goal is full-time employment in a medical office setting.  “I like interacting with people, greeting people, and answering phones.”  Towle is grateful for the support she has received from Project Self-Sufficiency.  “Project Self-Sufficiency is a really good place.  It’s a great organization that helps a lot of people.”
training program.

Women who take part in the agency’s HOW or SOS programs can expect computer skills training, including instruction in Microsoft Word, Excel and other applications, along with classroom instruction and on-the-job training at a community employment site.  Coursework focuses on workplace etiquette, life skills training, resume preparation, and interviewing strategies.  Registration for the Summer Office Skills program is currently underway.  Open houses about the Summer Office Skills program will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 1st; 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9th and Monday, June 15th; and at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 26th and Tuesday, June 30th.  Interested participants are invited to visit or call 973-940-3500 for more information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Community Supports Project Self-Sufficiency at A Taste of Talent

Hundreds of patrons poured through the doors of Perona Farms on Monday night to help support Project Self-Sufficiency at the 19th annual A Taste of Talent, a fundraising event which offered guests the opportunity to sample hors d’oeuvres, entrees and desserts from area restaurants while mingling with the chefs.  Patrons were also invited to bid on the tabletop creations of several local designers.  More than thirty restaurants participated in the event, along with representatives from three design firms.  Proceeds from the event benefited Project Self-Sufficiency’s programs for low-income families in Sussex, Warren, and Hunterdon counties. 

Project Self-Sufficiency Leadership Council member Frances Gould Naftal and her husband, Marvin, served as Honorary Chairpersons of the 2015 A Taste of Talent.  Frances noted, “I can’t imagine this area without Project Self-Sufficiency.  The need for what Project Self-Sufficiency does is growing, and I think that A Taste of Talent is another way to express this feeling of community in the best sense of the word.  It is fun and one of the better events in our area.”

“A Taste of Talent is like an outpouring of support by the community which includes the restaurants.  Everybody gets together and everybody is on the same page,” added Marvin, who knows many people who have been assisted by the agency.  “I don’t think that families who receive assistance from Project Self-Sufficiency come away thinking that they’ve hit rock bottom with no support.  At Project Self-Sufficiency, they feel that they have hope and that they’re being taken into a community, being given an education and being taken care of.”

Noting that the event has grown significantly each year, Beverly Gordon, President of Project Self-Sufficiency’s Board of Directors, commented, “An event of this magnitude would not be possible without the dedication of the restaurateurs and chefs in our community.  We are indebted to them for their enthusiastic participation and for their creativity.”

Participating restaurants included The Chatterbox Drive In; Perona Farms; Andre’s Restaurant & Lakeside Dining; Black Forest Inn; Bobolink Dairy; Café Pierrot; The Chocolate Goat Gift Shoppe; The Clay Oven; Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream; De Bragga & Spitler; Dre’s; Fossil Farms; George’s Wine & Gourmet Gallery; Gourmet Gallery; Hayek’s Market; The Inn at Millrace Pond; Jesse Jones, Chef to the Stars; Krave Café & Caterers; La Strada Ristorante; Mosefund Farms; Ninety Acres Culinary Center; Pattycakes; Pizza Bistro; Restaurant Triomphe; Ristorante Il Porto; Salt Gastro Pub & Salt Studio; Springhouse Dairy & Creamery; Spring Street Pub & Grill; St. Moritz Grill & Bar; Tanti Baci Caffe; The Trout & The Troll; Topo Restaurant; and Upstream Grille.  

Guests were also invited to stroll through the cavernous kitchen at Perona Farms and witness a cooking demonstration by Chatterbox Drive In owner and A Taste of Talent Culinary Chairperson Don Hall, who commented, “One of the most important aspects of this fine event is the opportunity to participate in and help fund one of the most important organizations in Sussex County, Project Self-Sufficiency!  Anyone that has the good fortune to experience firsthand the testimonials of the fine folks that Project Self-Sufficiency helps out understands the impact that this agency has on these individuals, their families and on a grander scale our local Community.”

Perona Farms Executive Chef Kirk Avondoglio adds that Perona Farms enthusiastically embraces A Taste of Talent year after year.  “What a wonderful event.  I look forward to it every year.  It’s nice to see all of the chefs come together.  There is a lot of camaraderie and it does so much for the people served by Project Self-Sufficiency.  It’s their biggest fundraiser of the year.”

The entryway at Perona Farms was transformed into a showcase featuring the wares of local designers, including Patricia Bruterri, Sweet P.E.A.’s; Holly George, Holly George Interior Design; Jacky Murphey, Victory Frame Shop; and Alicia Shearer, Alicia Shearer Interior Design.  Patrons bid on table designs which featured place settings for eight, art objects, and decorative items associated with the Broadway shows Honeymoon in Vegas, Gigi, and West Side Story.  All items were sold at a Silent Auction, with the proceeds benefiting Project Self-Sufficiency.

“A Taste of Talent directly benefits our Sussex County neighbors in need, and is the cornerstone to our annual campaign,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “We are exceptionally grateful for the time, talent and resources provided by the chefs and the designers who have contributed to this event, and to the entire community for their support of our programs for low-income families.”

Supporters of the event donated funds at several levels, ranging from individual tickets priced at $200 to contributions of $25,000 or more.  Silver Circle Members included Beverly & Bruce Gordon; Intercar Mercedes Benz; Susan & Gregory Murphy; Selective Insurance Company of America; and Sussex Honda.

Supporters at the Chairman’s Table level included Francesca Fazzolari, James Alexander Corporation; and Rhoda & Norman Seider.

The President’s Club was comprised of A Friend of Project Self-Sufficiency.

Partners included Judy and Jay Dunn; Kathy and Lou Esposito; George’s Salvage Co.; The McNamara Family, Safety Scaffolds; Frances Gould Naftal and Marvin Naftal, Flatbrook Farm; The Printing Center; RoNetco Supermarkets, Inc.; Dr. Salvatore Sciascia and Kathryn Kaplan; and Don Williams.

Anniversary Celebrants included J.P. Perry, Henry O. Baker Insurance Group; Ellen and Arnold Lieber; and Lois and Harold Pellow.

Supporters at the Patron level included Anonymous; Steve Bartow and Julie McMann; Bill and Laura Cowan, WILLCO; Current Adventures; Barry Douglas, Mountain Spring Irrigation; Virginia and Paris Eliades; Joanne Friedman, Gallant Hope Farm; Teri and Gordon Gaudet; Mr. and Mrs. R.G. Huber; Mary Hyde and Bob Katz; Margery and David Inkeles, M.D.; Lakeland Bank; Lora and Charles Musilli; Nisivoccia, LLP; Shannon and Brandon Nothstine; Sylvia and Ronald Petillo; Leslie and Greg Plifka; Peggy and John Post; Hilary A. Kruce and Vincent Signorile; Smith-McCracken & Wood Funeral Homes; John L. and Grace P. Soldoveri Foundation; Cheryl and Kenneth Syberg; Dr. Richard Vaz.

Sponsors included 28th Hole/Farmstead Golf & Country Club; Abcode Security; Elise and Thomas Adams; Dr. Pam Alberto, Alberto & Cho Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Group, LLC; Jeanne M. Apryasz; Lana and Jim Ayers; Melissa Bogert & Carl Ohlson, Iroquois Antiques; Michael Brazitis, Freedom Business Machines; Margorie Bresler; Caristia Kulsar & Wade, LLC; Joseph Celentano; Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream; Mary Anne and Larry Condit; D & H Alternative Risk Solutions; Delade Brothers Electric, Inc.; Eastern Propane and the Nicholson Family; Jonathan Eigner, Northern Rain Irrigation; Franklin Mutual Insurance Company; Frizzell, Kafafian, DeVries & Company, LLC; The Hardware Store of Sparta; Michael Harris; Hautau & Sons, LLC; Janice Illingworth; James Moore Construction; Linda and Bruce Jorritsma; KB Little – Plumbing, Heating & Well Pumps; Susan and Roy Knutsen; LC Ventures of Brevards, Inc.; Robert Levy; Ron-Dee and Brian Lockwood; Elsie and Charles Lorber; Loyas Insurance Agency; Colleen and Thomas McGinn; Linda and George Miller; Gail and Richard Miner; William C. Moynihan, Wells Fargo Advisors; Diane and Basil O’Connor; Barbara O’Neill and Gene Bronson; Fabiola and Sony Oozeerally; Lorraine and Tim Parker; R.B. Painting & Contracting; Andrea and Leon Remonko; Melissa and Todd Sacchiero; Sparta Trades Kitchens & Baths; Susan and Sovann Stark; Dr. Donato Stelluto; Michael Stieglitz; In Memory of Harry Tarzian; Jody and John Ursin; Sheila and Peter Ventricelli; Faith and Richard Vohden; Stephen Westcott, Sterling Financial Group; A Friend of Project Self-Sufficiency.

Music was provided by a variety of individuals and groups, including the Meant to be Jazz Ensemble, Glenn Merritt, Alan Hayes, Joe Guerra and Pete Omelio; Carol and Gary Kraemer, and Larry Supp; and students Katie and Andrew Van Varick.

Project Self-Sufficiency is a private non-profit community-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income families residing in northwestern New Jersey.  The agency’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of holistic, respectful, and comprehensive services enabling low-income single parents, teen parents, two-parent families, and displaced homemakers to improve their lives and the lives of their children while achieving personal and economic self-sufficiency and family stability.  Since 1986 Project Self-Sufficiency has served more than 20,000 families, including over 30,000 children.  To make a contribution to Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500, or visit