The Hoboken Homeless Shelter recently celebrated a very important milestone. The organization’s 30th Anniversary Celebration Dinner, which was hosted at the Elks Lodge on May 3, included special guests from politicians past and present, local businesses, volunteers, and friends and family of the shelter all coming together to share in this momentous occasion.
According to event co-Chair Karin Romans, the shelter has been providing the Hoboken community, as well as the surrounding North Hudson area, with food, shelter, and programs such as job training and education. This has made the shelter, which opened its doors in 1982, is an invaluable staple to the community.
“We provide support services, and have served over a million meals,” said Karin Romans. “I think for them getting here with this huge an event and turnout is a huge marker of what the community supports.”
The celebration dinner commemorates the many years the shelter has spent providing services, and included a special performance by local band Bern and the Brights, as well as a special cake donated by Carlos Bakery for dessert. The dinner, which included a tricky tray auction, sold out 240 tickets and raised $75,000 before the initial event. This surpassed the intended $60,000 goal for the evening.
“All the money is going back into helping people get back on tier feet,” said Romans.
“What people do for the Hoboken Homeless Shelter is the glue that holds Hoboken together as a community,” said Board President Mark Singleton, who has volunteered at the shelter for 28 years.
Singleton cemented his relationship with the shelter in 1985 when while volunteering in the kitchen, he saw three guys he had graduated high school with on the bread line. He along with so many others, have watched the shelter grow, and is grateful for the continued community support.
According to Executive Director Jaclyn Cherubini, this year alone the shelter has managed to house 106 people and currently houses 22 guests in the shelter’s apartments, and serve 400 people breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
“I have been here for eight years. It’s incredible seeing a community come together to help [the less fortunate],” said Cherubini. “We are really here to move people from the street to the shelter to their own home.”
In addition to food and housing, the shelter offers support services including vocational, educational, and recreational workshops; as well as case management, counseling, and emergency homeless prevention grants.
“One third of our guests go to work, school, programs, and then we have additional people throughout the day,” said Cherubini.
Cherubini said that from 2001 to 2011, the numbers coming to the shelter have doubled from less than 60,000 to 120,000, and by the end of this year could be up to 140,000 by the current numbers.
“The fact that we have been here 30 years is a blessing,” said Singleton. “The fact that we’re still needed is an indication that we still have more to do.”
For the organization reaching their 30thanniversary is not only a reason to celebrate what they have accomplished so far, but a chance to discuss the needs of the shelter and how to best continue its progress in the years to come.
“[The goal is] to end homelessness one person at a time,” Cherubini. “The really hard, difficult, and important journey home starts with a good meal. I believe it’s a basic human right. Everyone deserves to eat [a good meal] and because it’s Hoboken it better be good food.”
The event also honored volunteer Todd Kinney, who recently stepped down from the Board of Directors, and has been the shelter’s fundraising champion.
“Todd is just recently resigned after eight years and has been instrumental in the shelter’s fundraising efforts,” said Romans.
Kinney is most recognized for initiating the shelter’s best known fundraiser the Teak Silent Auction, which raises up to $15,000 annually.
“It’s actually pretty humbling,” said Kinney. “I’m very honored. Everything I have been a part of in the shelter has been a team effort.”
After devoting eight years to the shelter, Kinney is stepping down to devote more time to his family including his two boys Tyler and Zack – ages 12 and 10 respectively.
“My responsibilities have just expanded,” said Kinney.
Kinney arrived at the shelter in 2003 when he was in his early 30s, and at the time was at a “fork in the road” both in his professional and personal life.
“I decided I wanted to start giving back to the community, said Kinney. “The shelter felt like home to me.”
The first year Kinney worked in the kitchen serving meals, and eventually he vied for an open position on the Board of Directors in 2004. While on the board, he initiated and expanded most of the shelter’s fundraising efforts and for the past eight years has organized about 20 events and raised over $100,000 collectively.
“Everything the shelter thinks they got out of me, I got more from the shelter,” said Kinney. “It made me a better person and really taught me to be compassionate for the less fortunate, and [showed me] how lucky I am to have the family I have and the support I have. It made me who I am today.”
In addition to being honored by his colleagues, Kinney was also presented with proclamations from the Hudson County Board of Freeholders and from the City of Hoboken. Mayor Dawn Zimmer was on hand to present the proclamation from the city, and announce that she was going to ask the council to approve a $50,000 donation to the shelter.
“We had a settlement from a lawsuit and created a trust for affordable housing,” said Zimmer, who will be bringing it to the May 16 council meeting. “I feel the city has to do its part to help the shelter.”
Another familiar face and friend to the shelter present at the event was former Mayor David Roberts.
“I just want to congratulate Jaclyn on a job well done, and the entire clergy that truly reach out to help people that are in need,” said Roberts.
Former shelter guest Phil S. is one of many grateful for the support of the shelter. After contending with divorce and an addiction to cocaine, Phil became homeless for 4 to 5 years. After spending 10 months with the shelter and taking advantage of the many programs, Phil is back on his feet and living in his own apartment again.
“I knew I could get breakfast and lunch at St, Matthew’s, and dinner at the shelter,” said Phil. “It was a place to sleep and a place to eat.”
Phil is retired at 66 and currently volunteering his time at St. Matthew’s 3 to 4 days a week now.
“I am always so thankful to our families and volunteers,” said Cherubini. “Volunteers are welcomed to come by the shelter from 6 to 8 p.m. nightly.”
“[The shelter] has been very successful in helping reintegrate people into society,” said Kinney. “They try to provide a sense of family and community in the shelter.”
For more information visit www.hobokenshelter.org.