HomeFront Family Campus – Celebrating 5 Years of Transforming Lives

In the past five years, HomeFront’s state-of-the-art Family Campus has provided 2,873 individuals who are homeless with shelter as well as the chance to change the trajectory of their lives.  “So many times I hear from our families,” says HomeFront Campus Client Liaison Liza Peck. “They came here thinking this was just a place to stay, but left feeling like they have a new family and the resources to begin a new life.”  That’s because the Family Campus offers, in addition to shelter, education, job training and placement, children’s programs, life skills classes, assistance finding a stable home, and many other programs.”  One recent Campus client, MsChyna, earned her high school diploma while staying at the Family Campus.  She named her new baby Genesis, because she feels she is off to “a new chapter of her life.”

The Family Campus’ comprehensive services model was designed based on HomeFront’s prior 25 years of experience working with local families experiencing homelessness.  “We realized early on it wasn’t enough to have a roof over your head,” says HomeFront founder and CEO, Connie Mercer. “You need to address all of the underlying issues of homelessness.”  Shelter providers from over 14 U.S. states and national policy groups have visited HomeFront’s Family Campus over the past 5 years to learn about this more holistic approach.

As the Campus hosted festivities for its five-year anniversary, Samantha, a former HomeFront client is also planning the fifth birthday party of her son.  “When I think back to how things used to be [before I came to HomeFront’s Campus], it’s hard to believe” she says.  “I grew up with addiction in my family and I never knew a life without drugs.” When she came to HomeFront, she was separated from her two children and was 15 weeks pregnant with her third child.  Samantha lived at the Campus for 6 months took part in many of its programs,  and went through the “My Baby and Me” addiction treatment program.  Samantha has been clean for “18 months and 2 days”, works, has been reunited with her children, they live together in a home of their own.

The Campus 5th birthday was marked with a socially distant celebration for the families living there during the pandemic, with music, games, speeches, and bar-b-q.  When the Covid crisis ends, HomeFront welcomes community members for a tour.  Virtual Tours of HomeFront’s headquarters are currently available by emailing getinvolved@homefrontnj.org.

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