CAMDEN- Juan Rivera has high hopes for the newly opened Promise Neighborhood Family Success Center (PNFSC) in Camden. “Our vision is for it to be the most successful Family Success Center in the state. We envision people coming out for so many different resources; we’re ready to meet the needs of families in our community,” states Rivera, the programs director.
Center For Family Services was awarded state funding from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families to open a Family Success Center in the Cooper Lanning Promise Neighborhood community in Camden City. After months of planning, preparation, and painting, the PNFSC opened its doors to families on November 1st, 2012. On a block surrounded by other social services including multiple Center For Family Services programs, the PNFSC fits right in. The three story building is designed to have a home-like atmosphere; there is a living room, computer lab for adults and children, and large kitchen perfect for bi-weekly family dinners. “We want everyone to feel comfortable, to come here and feel like they are at home,” says Rivera, “We also want them to feel safe and to have access to great resources.”
Those great resources include resume building, youth activities, health workshops, family dinner nights, connections to job opportunities, homework help, and fun, interactive events and activities for the whole family.
What makes the PNFSC even more unique is its use of volunteers and the need for them to make the program be successful. Volunteers are needed for health workshops, homework help, donation drives; you name it, there is a need for volunteer participation. “We need volunteers to participate in our operation, to offer their expertise for us to include in our workshops,” says Rivera.
Even before the PNFSC opened, they were hosting a volunteer group from Campbell’s Soup Company as part of their “Make A Difference Week”; a yearly initiative when employees volunteer in their local communities. Campbell’s employees spent four days painting a mural in the main hallway of the Family Success Center. The mural depicts Camden City families joining together, raising each up, working together and holding a banner that reads “Together, We Can Do Anything”, with the skyline of Camden in the background. The mural has become a symbol of inspiration and hope for the families that enter the Promise Neighborhood Family Success Center.
On November 15th the PNFSC hosted its first community event, a Thanksgiving brunch. They canvassed the community, inviting families to join them and learn about this new resource in their neighborhood. Over 18 people were welcomed into the PNFSC that day, they toured the site, learned about its services and sat down to a family dinner. It was the opening Juan Rivera and his staff hoped for as they strive to be the best Family Success Center in the state.
Center For Family Services is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve a better life through vision, hope and strength. It is their vision that all people lead capable, responsible, fulfilled lives in strong families and healthy communities.
The Camden Cooper Lanning Promise Neighborhood initiative is focused on creating opportunities for children and families who live within the Cooper Plaza and Lanning Square communities to thrive. The Promise Neighborhood Initiative is based on the Harlem Children’s Zone model to create a comprehensive, high quality pipeline of services to ensure a cradle through college continuum that leads to academic achievement and neighborhood improvement. The Cooper Lanning Team, led by Center For Family Services, is working to develop a plan to utilize Harlem’s block by block model of community improvement for children and families.
For more information on the Promise Neighborhood Family Success Center and Center For Family Services please visit www.centerffs.org.