Alexandra Mansonet-Cross, the CEO of the The Jewish Renaissance Foundation, spoke to APN about their work:
What does the organization do?
The Jewish Renaissance Foundation (“JRF”) strives to overcome poverty and hopelessness throughout Middlesex County by providing individuals, children and families with essential health and human services, community development and youth programs regardless of cultures, faiths, or economic status.
Who does the organization help?
Since becoming a Community Action Agency in 2009, the JRF provides case management and direct financial assistance through our Family Assistance Center (“FAC”) to approximately 5000 individuals annually who are living at or below 125% of the federal poverty level. In addition, through our Family Success Center (“FSC”) and our school programs – School Based Youth Services, Civic Justice Corps, and Step Up – we provide families and youth with programs and services which assist in strengthening the family unit and help to direct youth on a path to achieve their goals. In 2015, the JRF became a Federally Qualified Health Center for the Homeless, and looks forward to the opening of the JRF Community Health Center this year. The health center will assist in helping families, especially the homeless, in receiving quality medical care.
What does poverty look like in the agency’s work?
Through a variety of services which are offered at the JRF, the organization is able to provide a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of low income individuals and families. For the JRF, poverty is often seen as the family who struggles to put food on the table, pay rent, and pay daycare, while working two jobs. Poverty is also seen as multiple families who have to reside in the same house and/or apartment in order to be able to meet the basic needs of the individual and/or family. In addition, poverty is seen as the person who puts off addressing their medical needs because they cannot afford to pay for medical care, and keep a roof over their head.
Why is The Jewish Renaissance Foundation a part of APN?
APN is a resource for information on the issues which impact the population the JRF serves. Through its meetings and events, APN provides an opportunity for JRF staff to meet and partner with other organizations who are working with low income families and individuals. In having a JRF staff member serve as a member of the Board of Trustees and as the Co-Chair for the APN Structural Racism and Poverty report, it allows the JRF to lend its talents and leadership to the fight to end poverty in New Jersey.