Union County, NJ – Union County held the inaugural event of the new Fresh Start mobile program on Wednesday, December 1, in Elizabeth. Fresh Start is the first county-based program of its kind in New Jersey. The inaugural event was held at St. Joseph Social Service Center, a Union County community partner, at 118 Division Street in Elizabeth.
“Union County is thrilled to have launched the mobile Fresh Start program,” said Commissioner Board Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “We will continue our outreach efforts to provide these essential services to our most vulnerable residents.”
“Yesterday, I was able to join Commissioner Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded in engaging with multiple County residents who received winter clothes, were able to shower and do laundry while also receiving information about Union County social services available to them,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, who is the Commissioner Board’s Liaison to the Union County Human Services Advisory Council. “I spoke to a couple that is currently sleeping in their car. This program made it possible for them to receive essential Fresh Start services and also provided the opportunity for them to speak to specialists that could assist them with their housing and employment needs. This is one example as to why this grassroots program is so important. We look forward to continuing this program around the County, so that all residents in need can benefit.”
More than a dozen Union County residents in need participated. They were able to shower, do laundry and access information for critical social service support programs at the event.
The Fresh Start program is part of Chairman Mirabella’s “Union County Rising” initiatives for 2021, aimed at maximizing countywide resources for response to the COVID-19 pandemic while addressing emerging needs in the areas of fiscal planning, public safety, education, economic development, opportunity, inclusion, and diversity in addition to human services.
The centerpiece of Fresh Start is a mobile trailer equipped with bathroom and shower units as well as laundry facilities. It is operated and maintained in accordance with standards for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The Fresh Start trailer serves as a portal and contact platform for a continuum of resources leading to self-sufficiency, including emergency shelter and clothing. Access to ongoing resources including but not limited to mental health services, housing, and employment assistance will be available.
The trailer can also provide essential services to Union County residents who are displaced by natural disasters and other emergencies, in addition to providing services to those in financial need.
This kick-off event for the Fresh Start program was a coordination of a wide variety of resources among public and non-profit organizations, such as Union County Department of Human Services, St. Joseph’s Social Service Center, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, PROCEED, Inc., and the Moving New Jersey Forward Foundation.
The Fresh Start trailer will visit locations throughout Union County based on request. Agencies and organizations that are interested can send a request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional details are available through the Union County Department of Human Services at https://ucnj.org/dhs/fresh-start.
For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.
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