New Jersey mothers in need to get Mother’s Day gifts from donors
WYCKOFF – Mothers with young children make up a significant portion of the homeless population in America.
When Mother’s Day arrives, there is little to offer them luxury goods. But a group of volunteers from North Jersey want homeless and recently resettled mothers to feel special, too.
Recently, Park Ridge resident Natalie Rehak waved at piles of donated merchandise as volunteers gathered at Lori Norian’s home to fill 60 bins for delivery to mothers at Paterson and Clifton shelters, as well as mothers. recently relocated to private accommodation.
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It is the latest in a series of ever-expanding projects inspired by Families4families, which helps homeless families find and maintain permanent shelter.
“Mothers never ask for anything for themselves,” Rehak said. “We wanted them to feel pampered and empowered.”
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Rehak said she was inspired to take on a project by her sister Carrie Terwilliger, who heads the Families4families community outreach committee.
“We were looking for something for the Cub Scouts to do, especially because of social distancing during COVID-19,” Rehak said. “We were promoting bags of school supplies and asked if parents wanted to donate extra bags for the homeless. We were overwhelmed with the response, 120 bags were donated.
“That little bag of trinkets that our children take for granted, the mothers at the shelter who came to the door choked on us talking to us,” she said.
Emboldened by her success, Rehak “got an idea for a Mother’s Day gift” and posted a review on the Park Ridge Mothers Facebook group. The news spread to groups in Montvale, Emerson and elsewhere.
“Within a week, I had stacks of boxes on my doorstep,” Rehak said. “Nail files, nail polish, organic beauty products, foot scrubs, spa socks, chocolate bars, gourmet snacks, coloring books for adults, aromatherapy candles, even offers to join a yoga class in line.”
Sister Carrie Terwilliger says her biggest surprise at the homeless has been that “most of our clients are single mothers with young children,” which makes the Mother’s Day project particularly meaningful.
“It really got me thinking about the challenge of women who are usually caregivers to start with,” Terwilliger said.
Families with children represent a third of people homeless on a given night, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. And many of these families are made up of a young mother with two children under the age of 6.
One of Terwilliger’s favorite parts of the project is the inclusion of framed family photos.
“We noticed while visiting the houses that there were no family photos on the walls,” Terwilliger said. “This time we asked for photos that we could have framed. In the future, we hope to have a photographer who will take family portraits for them.”
Among the volunteers was Chistin Freet, teacher and counselor at Mahwah High School, whose daughters helped assemble small products into decorative bags at home and whose son’s scout troop carried out a community service project by organizing first aid kits for families.
“I am the National Honor Society advisor at Mahwah High School, and we also organize summer activity bags for these kids,” Freet said. “Jump ropes, frisbees, art supplies, books for different age groups, bubbles.”
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Founder Cristyn Madley was present with her four daughters.
“It’s a great way to give something back to mothers who go without it so often,” Madley said.
Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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