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Bergen County's Homeless Addressed During Foundation Week

Kate Duggan, Executive Director of Family Promise Bergen County, received from Northern New Jersey Community Foundation's President, Michael Shannon, the Foundation's collection of laundry detergent for homeless families.
Kate Duggan, Executive Director of Family Promise Bergen County, received from Northern New Jersey Community Foundation's President, Michael Shannon, the Foundation's collection of laundry detergent for homeless families. Photo Credit: Family Promise of Bergen County

Bergen County's only regional foundation participated in a national effort to recognize philanthropic organizations.

The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), headquartered in Englewood, joined more than 780 community foundations across the U.S. celebrating Community Foundation Week Nov. 12-18. 

The effort was created in 1989 by former president George H.W. Bush to raise awareness about the role philanthropic organizations have with fostering local collaboration and innovation to address civic and economic challenges.

The NNJCF, the only community foundation focusing on Bergen County, identified key issues such as hunger and homeless veterans, asking the public to become more involved.

During Community Foundation Week, the NNJCF addressed the increase in homelessness among families in the county. NNJCF launched a collection of laundry detergent, a necessity for families that is not covered by food stamps.

Statistics about homeless families reveal a critical situation, according to NNJCF. Statistics from Family Promise of Bergen County, based in Ridgewood, indicate,

  • Families make up 40 percent of the total homeless population. 
  • About 42 percent of children in homeless families under six years of age. 
  • Families are often hidden from view, living in overcrowded housing or in cars and shelters.
  • The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment is $1,500 monthly. To afford this, a household must earn $60,000 annually or $30 per hour.

The NNJCF collected the laundry detergent at its ArtsBergen initiative's quarterly Connect the Dots networking event held at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck and partnered with the Hackensack-based Bergen Volunteer Center's newly launched Mini LEADS program at Berkeley College in Paramus.

"The NNJCF continually asks, 'What can we accomplish together that we cannot do alone?' The contribution helps homeless families in Bergen County and demonstrates the Foundation's collaborative purpose to bring together residents and local community based organizations to meet the needs in the area," said Michael Shannon, President, NNJCF.

The NNJCF presented the collection to Family Promise of Bergen County, a nonprofit that serves homeless families.

“As a community foundation, NNJCF impacts lives, solves problems, and enhances people's futures," said Shannon. “Many residents grapple with limited resources and a growing need for services. We are resolute to bring community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions for some of our most challenging social problems.”

This year, the NNJCF's ArtsBergen initiative continued to worked with the City of Hackensack to develop a creative placemaking program that is using arts and culture to help the city enhance its quality of life, grow civic and business revenues, and make the community a more exciting, attractive place to visit, live, and work. 

ArtsBergen worked with the Hackensack Main Street Business Alliance to establish Creative Hackensack to use arts and culture for revitalizing downtown business.

"From this joint effort, several projects were developed, such as the Main Gateway Mural on Main Street and the CAT Walk Art Exhibition held this past summer at Demarest Place. The Arts Village on Banta Place, featuring music, art exhibitions, and public art at the 11th Annual Hackensack Street Festival, attracted several hundred visitors, who contributed their art and messages on a community wall using the façade of a local business," said NNJCF Associate Director Danielle De Laurentis.

For further information about the NNJCF, upcoming Connect the Dots events, volunteer opportunities or other community engagement projects, call 201-568-5608 or send an e-mail to

NNJCF is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization based that focuses primarily on the arts, civic engagement, education, and public health. NNJCF works with local governments, school districts, businesses, non-profit organizations, and citizen groups in Northern New Jersey to improve community life. 

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