Project Self-Sufficiency creates mobile unit

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Project Self-Sufficiency was recently awarded funding from Impact 100 Garden State, a New Jersey women’s philanthropic organization, to create a mobile version of its programming in order to reach far-flung portions of its service areas in Sussex and Northern Morris Counties where residents may not have easy access to personal vehicles or public transportation. Funding will be used to retrofit a recreational vehicle with internet access, computer work stations, a counseling office and a classroom, and be staffed by a case manager, computer instructor and career counselor.

The mobile unit will travel a set schedule throughout Sussex and Morris Counties delivering the services which the agency has successfully provided for 30 years.

Project Self-Sufficiency has initiated a contest to name the new mobile service unit. The winner will receive two tickets to the agency’s April 30th fundraiser, A Taste of Talent, at Perona Farms. To submit a name for Project Self-Sufficiency’s mobile service vehicle, visit and click on “Name Project Self-Sufficiency’s Mobile Service”. The naming contest will run from December 15th – January 15th; the winner will be notified by phone.

Now in its fifth year of collaborative giving, Impact 100 Garden State has funded more than one million dollars in transformative grants to non-profit organizations serving residents in the New Jersey counties of Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Sussex. The organization’s mission is to provide high-impact grants to organizations that reach underserved populations, to raise the profile of those that are less well known, and to highlight unmet needs in the areas of arts and culture, children and families, education, environment, health and wellness. Each year its members contribute to the grant funds and vote to determine the recipients.

“I am thrilled that our Impact 100 members voted to fund Project Self-Sufficiency this year,” said Merle Johnson, President of Impact 100 Garden State. “We were all blown away by their well-presented and innovative program. We are particularly delighted that the project will help people living in Sussex County. It is one of the counties included in our mission and this is our first grant to a nonprofit there.”

“This innovative means of providing services is based on a challenge which has long plagued the lower-income residents of our area of the state, namely access to transportation to and from Project Self-Sufficiency,” explains Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “Onboard the mobile service unit, families will be able to access one-on-one counseling sessions where they will work with a case manager to develop an action plan. Individuals can participate in computer training, receive help with resumes, cover letters, and interview skills, and access information about job openings and community resources. The mobile unit will also carry much needed basic essentials like food, clothing, diapers and warm winter coats to the more remote towns in our area.”

A recreational vehicle was purchased from longtime Project Self-Sufficiency supporter Michael McNamara and is currently being retrofitted with computer stations, storage, desk space and a counseling area.

The Project Self-Sufficiency vehicle will travel a rotating schedule through the Sussex County municipalities of Franklin/Ogdensburg, Hamburg, Hopatcong, Sussex and Vernon, as well as the towns of Jefferson, Kenvil and Netcong in Morris County. Each of the nine municipalities will have access to mobile services approximately two days each month, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (with the exception of holidays).

“By helping to meet immediate basic needs and providing preliminary services onboard the new vehicle, we hope to help stabilize the most vulnerable families enough so that they can eventually access center-based services and make greater strides to lasting self-sufficiency,” adds Berry-Toon.

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