Join Us

Please join us in our Annual Appeal,
targeting underserved youth.

While all of our programs need and deserve fundraising support, one of our most important and impactful programs is seriously underfunded.

Our School-Based Youth Services Programs (SBYSPs) operate in three area high schools and two middle schools, where we have full-time staff and our own welcoming spaces.

  • At first, kids often just come to play video games or foosball after school when they have nowhere else that’s safe to hang out.
  • They learn to trust our staff and many decide to join our groups on homework help and SAT prep, on how to interact with authority figures and safe dating, on inclusive peer support and making positive choices.
  • Teens who have never hiked in a State Park or been to a Broadway show; we take them there.
  • When they have a crisis or loss at home, they come to our clinicians. When a teacher or another student hears of a suicide threat, they bring the youth to us. So sometimes, we literally save lives.

Our SBYSPs achieve all this and more. But while our operating costs for these five programs have jumped 28% in the past five years,
our state funding has remained flat.

So we urgently need to raise $110,000 in this year’s Annual Appeal to ensure the youth in our communities continue to get the crucial support they need to succeed.

And we have a head start! To kick off this urgent appeal, we have received a substantial donation from Valley Bank!  With its commitment to stronger communities and access to opportunity, Valley Bank is an ideal partner for our school-based programs and we are deeply grateful for their generosity.

Since 1879, Family Connections has proven that communities prosper when everyone is invested in each other’s wellbeing. When you connect with us, you’re building a stronger, safer, and healthier New Jersey.

Make a difference.  Join us – where hope meets possibility. Change lives and strengthen our communities by giving as much as you can, right now. 

With our deepest gratitude,

Jody Lipsky
President, Board of Trustees

Jacques Hryshko, LPC
Chief Executive Officer

For one example of how our School-Based programs change lives, please read below:

“My name is Nigel. When I was five, I came to the United States from Guyana with my mom, while my dad stayed behind. I still spent summers back in Guyana because my dad was very important to me.  He was the one who always told me he loved me and taught me how to be who I am.

Up here, my mom and grandmother were always working.  When I got to Maplewood Middle School, I started hanging out with kids who were involved with the Bloods street gang and that continued at Columbia High School. I was hanging out with a worse and worse crowd. Then, one day, I found out my dad and my favorite cousin were both murdered.

When it happened, I didn’t have anybody to talk to.  I started spending more and more time hanging out with Bloods.  Some people at school tried to get me to stop but I just didn’t care. Then one day I broke down at school and a friend brought me to The Loft, Family Connections’ program at Columbia High School.  The counselors there listened to me.  They gave me a safe place to talk out my feelings. They helped me see I had other choices besides running the streets with a bad crowd. You see, when he was alive, I never wanted to disappoint my Dad.  And from talking out my feelings there, I realized, I still wanted to make him proud of me.

So instead of hanging out on the streets after school, I started hanging out at Family Connections’ Loft. It became my home away from home. And in my junior year, The Loft sponsored me and other kids to go on a service-learning trip to the Mississippi Delta to rebuild homes destroyed by the hurricanes.  I got to meet people who had nothing – whole families living in a one-room trailer.  I got to help build decent homes for them. And that experience made me want to help people for the rest of my life.

Back at school, I kept going to Family Connections and they helped me stay focused, so I could graduate and go on to Essex County College.  But I still dropped by to say hi and sometimes the staff encouraged me to talk to the younger kids.  So I became a kind of peer counselor.  One time, there was this Junior I’d known before.  I could tell something was wrong, so I pulled him aside and asked him what was going on.  He told me his favorite aunt had just died and he couldn’t deal with it.  I told him: Look, you know what I’ve been through, so if you want to talk… This kid broke down and I told him there’s nothing to be ashamed of and I just listened to him talk about his aunt.  When he finally left, I could tell he felt better.

Just one person can make all the difference and that’s what the people at Family Connections do every day. 

Not long after that, Family Connections offered me a part-time job at The Loft.  I started getting paid to do what I would’ve done for free.  Then I got a full-time job as the Youth Development Specialist at The Hub, Family Connections’ SBYSP at Maplewood Middle School.  I was really glad to be working in the Middle School, because that’s when you can catch kids before they go wrong.

After three years  there I got an opportunity to join a small business providing medical transport services and I’ve since worked my way up to become a partner in the business.  I have also been honored to serve for two years on Family Connections’ Board of Trustees.  So that’s my story.  I thank Family Connections for catching me before I went wrong and for giving me the opportunity to help others.  When a kid just doesn’t care or is under too much pressure, he or she needs a place like Family Connections to call home.

So I just want to say, I hope my father can see me now and knows what I’m doing with my life.  Because I know he would NOT be disappointed.  In fact, I think he’d be proud.”