From left to right: Keyosha Bauldock, HomeFront staff; William De Leon, Angel's case manager; Christopher Chaparro, Angel Chaparro and Valerie Chaparro.

From left to right: Keyosha Bauldock, HomeFront staff; William De Leon, Angel's case manager; Christopher Chaparro, Angel Chaparro and Valerie Chaparro.

HomeFront: Providing a Safe Harbor after a Hurricane

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ive years ago Angel Chaparro relocated from New York City to Florida with his four children, determined to make a new start and provide a better life as a single father. The move came with challenges, including navigating the state’s school and health insurance systems, but the final straw came with the devastation of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“I lost my car. I lost all my property. I lost everything,” said Angel. “I became homeless.”

Following the hurricane, his cousin living in Trenton offered temporary housing, but a one-bedroom apartment was just too small for Angel, his children and his cousin’s family. In addition, Angel suffers from several health conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and HIV, and he knew that he needed help with not only housing but also his health.

His cousin suggested HomeFront, a Mercer County organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Central New Jersey. 

Angel initially connected with Brenda Whitaker, director of case management, and she quickly secured temporary housing and arranged for his medical treatment. Angel’s family is one of more than 740 families receiving housing support from HomeFront this year.  

HomeFront by the Numbers

 

  • 16,000+ times families came to us for — and were given — shelter, food and emergency assistance. 
  • 113 families and 152 children lived in HomeFront’s permanent affordable housing.
  • 637 clients received services at our health clinic including sick visits, mental health services, domestic violence support, well-baby visits and general health screenings. 
  • 249 families with 392 children received intensive support and were sheltered with dignity at our Family Campus and in our FreshStart program.
  • Over 3,900 visits were made to our FreeStore and more than 575 families furnished their homes through our Furnish the Future program. 
  • 393 children benefited from educational and enrichment activities through our Joy, Hopes & Dreams program.
  • Over 12,119 food bags were given out from our food pantries and over 150,000 meals staved off hunger. 
  • Our 8-week summer camp gave 145 homeless and at-risk kids the most glorious summer ever!
Since it was launched in 1991, HomeFront has relied on the very generous donations of time, materials and funding from our numerous partners throughout the area. Bristol-Myers Squibb has been with us from the beginning.

HomeFront’s president and CEO Connie Mercer noted, “Since it was launched in 1991, HomeFront has relied on the very generous donations of time, materials and funding from our numerous partners throughout the area. Bristol-Myers Squibb has been with us from the beginning.”  

The relationship between the two organizations began more than 25 years ago  and now, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s support includes cash donations to essential programs including the creation of a primary health clinic onsite and in-kind donations of office furniture, food, personal hygiene items, bicycles, holiday baskets and back-to-school sponsorships; and organized days of volunteering by individual employees and departmental teams.

Recently, the company approached HomeFront to help make a significant difference in the lives of families living in the Family Campus in Ewing.  The result of this outreach is the HomeFront Wellness Center which provides homeless families with holistic health education and interventions as well as establishing an on-site clinic with its own physician who sees patients once a week. 

“When families arrive at our campus, they have been focused solely on surviving and all too often view the emergency room as their sole source for medical interventions, without a primary care physician and all of the health benefits that come with an established relationship,” Mercer says. “A major component of our medical education and services in the Wellness Center is making sure families have those connections.”

For Angel Chaparro, Homefront is his safe harbor. After losing everything in Hurricane Irma, he is now living in safe, long-term housing and has health insurance. Homefront has donated school supplies and new clothes for his two youngest children who are starting at school in the fall, and his older son is attending college in Florida on a scholarship. 

“I didn’t know a place like this existed,” Angel said. “Without the help of my case workers, I wouldn’t have known what to do. They have helped me every step of the way.”