U.S. Rep. Rush Holt visited Anchor House this morning to announce a $105,745 federal grant to support the organization’s outreach programs for at-risk and homeless youth in the city.
“When young people in Trenton fall through the gaps in our social safety net, Anchor House is there to catch them,” Holt said. “This well-deserved grant will help Anchor House hit the streets to provide opportunities and support directly to homeless and at-risk young people. It sends a clear and vital message: No matter how lonely, abandoned, or neglected youth in Trenton may feel, their lives always have dignity, and they will never be truly alone.”
The grant, provided through the Administration for Children and Families Family and Youth Services Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, will support Anchor Link – Anchor House’s street outreach program, which is headquartered on South Broad Street in Trenton. The program provides crisis intervention, counseling, assistance with job searches, linkages for shelter services or assistance locating safe living arrangements, referrals to community programs, advocacy, life skills education, and transportation.
Holt wrote a letter of support in July 2013 urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide the grant to Anchor House.
“Our kids face so many challenges as they struggle to fend for themselves without a family support system,” said Kim McNear, Executive Director of Anchor House. “They are often wary of the programs and services, having been let down, time and time again. Our job is to reach out to them, to let them know that people do care about them, and that they can trust us to help them become productive adults. It starts with the little things, like giving youth food and hygiene products and a place to wash their clothes, and eventually build stronger relationships so they feel safe to come in and receive individual counseling, and assistance in finding jobs and housing. We help them build their resiliency, deal with their feelings, and create a support system for them. We teach them to plan for a better future.”
For 35 years, Anchor House has strived to meet the needs and advocate for runaway, street, homeless, and at-risk youth in Trenton. In addition to the street outreach program, services include a shelter for homeless and runaway youth, school outreach programming, a transitional living program, and emergency respite services. The annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways raises about a third of the money needed to keep the doors of Anchor House open each year.
“If they weren’t there for me, I would probably be dead now,” said Jennifer Margentino, 25, a former Anchor House client who works full-time at a call center during the week and at the mall on weekends. “They were there for me when my mom passed away, when I was put in the hospital; they have done so much. They are family for those who don’t have family. It was hard when I first came into the program after living on my own to have a curfew and being told what to do but I learned to appreciate the help. I learned how to deal with my feelings, how to budget and plan. Even today I can go back and have someone to talk to.”
Ashaneiyah McClinton, 20, is currently employed at Lord & Taylor and will enter the Army at the end of the year. She was first a resident at Anchor House’s emergency shelter, then went to the Anchorage long-term housing program, and is now in the Anchor Line apartment program.
“In each program you gain skills and are offered different opportunities,” she said. “They are a great stepping stone. You build bonds you never really leave. These people are like my family. I go back and visit my friends and the staff and still keep in touch.”