Twenty-two years ago, on a cold and rainy November afternoon, a fifteen year-old-girl stepped out into the drizzle from the tiny, dark room at the Trent Welfare Motel to claim the one meal of the day for her mentally ill mom and herself from the Meals on Wheels van in the parking lot.
She remembers the red-haired lady who approached her and asked pointedly, “Why aren’t you in school?”
When the lady found out that the girl had been on a terrifying, school-free, homeless odyssey across the country for over two years she said “Take me to your mom. You need to be in school.”
That was Angel Bey’s first encounter with Connie Mercer, the head of a new area non-profit, which would come to be known as HomeFront.
Even though life continued to be pretty rough for many years for Angel and her mom, Angel will tell anyone who will listen that “God sent me Connie Mercer that afternoon and she changed my life and certainly the lives of my three children today!” Angel’s story is a classic example of what education and incredibly hard work can do but it is also the living model of the HomeFront vision to offer the array of supports people need to break the cycle of poverty in their family forever.
Ms. Mercer provided Angel with everything she needed to work toward success; housing, clothes, food, emotional support, money for emergencies, educational advocacy and tutoring, even cultural enrichment.
“Connie Mercer and HomeFront became my family and raised me,” said Angel.
Today, Ms. Bey is an Assistant Professor of Nursing Science at Mercer County Community College, half of a successful professional couple with three children in a house with a pool in Burlington, and is soon to be Dr. Bey when she finishes her doctorate in Education.
“My kids don’t want for anything,” she explained proudly. “They can open the refrigerator whenever they want and find food in there! They are in a stable home. They will never need a place like HomeFront. Instead, they donate to HomeFront. This year we are ‘adopting’ a HomeFront family to make sure that they have the kind of Christmas that their children deserve — the kind I missed for so many years. It’s the least we can do because I know that none of us would be where we are today if it hadn’t been for HomeFront. Our joy in giving is great.”
This press piece was submitted to MercerMe from HomeFront. HomeFront provides emergency shelter with intensive case management and affordable housing for families; tutoring and enrichment programs for children; and life skills and self-advocacy training for adults. Since 1991, the organization has helped homeless families to build lives of self-respect, stability and independence by using a comprehensive and holistic approach to ending homelessness in Central New Jersey. HomeFront has become a sophisticated social service agency able to address material needs for shelter, food, and clothing. It has established effective programs to help parents develop educational, vocational and life skills while also opening the world and all its wonderful possibilities to their children. For more information about how you can help, visit www.homefrontnj,org or call (609)-989-9417.