Over its 37-year history, Anchor House has evolved from a single emergency shelter for runaways to an agency with several programs and locations in the greater Trenton area serving children from Mercer County and beyond.
When the 173 cyclists and 36 support crew members leave Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and head to Oswego, New York, where they will kick off the 37th annual Ride for Runaways, they will make the 500-mile journey back to Trenton to raise funds to keep all the Anchor House programs running.
The Anchor House shelter, the cornerstone of the Anchor house program, is a 24-hour safe haven for runaway, homeless and at-risk youth ages 10-17. Runaway and homeless children and teens have walk-in access to the program 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Anchor House services include crisis intervention, individual and family counseling, temporary shelter, food and clothing, advocacy, outreach, and support groups. When family reunification isn’t possible, Anchor House works with the youths to find a safe place to live.
School Outreach Program
Anchor House reaches out to the community to help kids in crisis. A school outreach counselor works with schools throughout Mercer County to provide crisis intervention services, and acts as a liaison to the schools for youth living at the shelter. The program seeks to reach at-risk youths and prevent runaway behavior and dropping out of school.
The Anchorage transitional living program provides shelter to homeless youth ages 18-21 and teaches them to become independent adults. The program helps young people develop the skills they need to be employed. The Anchorage also provides services on an out-client basis. All youths served by the program can participate in educational activities, counseling, and job assistance.
Anchor Line Apartment Program
The Anchor Line apartment program is for homeless young adults ages 18-21. The program provides subsidized housing, food, case management, and life-skills education so the young adults can learn to successfully live on their own. Youths who live in the apartment program are required to find jobs to support themselves, and are encouraged to enroll in school, participate in counseling, and learn life skills like budgeting and saving money.
Anchor Link Street Outreach
Anchor Link is the agency’s street outreach program. The Anchor Link provides at-risk teens with crisis intervention services, counseling, assistance with job searches, assistance locating safe living arrangements, referrals to community programs, and transportation.
The common denominator of all the Anchor House programs is providing a safe place where kids can feel nurtured and cared for, and feel a sense of hope.
“We want our kids to see that there is an opportunity for things to get better for them,” Anchor House Executive Director Kim McNear said. “We show them that they have a brighter future.”
Anchor House receives funding through government and corporate sources, as well as private foundations and donations from the public. The Ride for Runaways raises about a third of the funds to cover the annual operating costs to keep the doors of Anchor House open for children in need.
The nonprofit depends on individuals, organizations, and religious groups to volunteer with Anchor House programs. As a volunteer, you will share your time and talents to help at-risk children and youth. Training and supervision are provided to all volunteers. Individuals and groups are encouraged to make a weekly or monthly commitment during the evenings or weekends. Volunteers should commit to a minimum of one 4-hour shift per month. Most volunteers find that they enjoy their time with the kids so much that they volunteer more frequently than that. Some of the volunteer activities:
• Mentoring children and youths
• Assisting with recreational activities
• Providing homework help
• Helping care for the children and youths
• Helping with fundraising events
• Cooking, painting, and home repairs
If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of Central New Jersey’s most vulnerable children, consider joining the Anchor House volunteer team. To apply to be a volunteer, please call (609) 392-6100.
Planet Princeton and Planet Trenton, in partnership with the Trentonian, are the official media sponsors for the 37th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways. For more information about Anchor House or to make a donation, visit www.anchorhouseride.org, where you can also make online donations in a cyclist’s name. Donations can also be sent to the Anchor House Foundation, P.O. Box 2357, Trenton, NJ 08607-2357.