Social Work and Police Community Outreach
In November 2020, Officer Copes of the Lacey Township Police Department was working his shift when he was called for assistance in the Walmart parking lot. It was here where Officer Copes met with an adult brother and sister who needed his help. During their interaction, Officer Copes learned that they were homeless, living out of their car, and experiencing significant financial strain. Officer Copes immediately referred them to the On P.O.I.N.T. Program.
The On P.O.I.N.T. (Proactive Outreach in Needs and Treatment) began as a pilot demonstration in 2016 with Ocean Mental Health Services (OceanMHS) and Stafford Township Police Department. Since then, it has expanded to Little Egg Harbor, Lacey Township, Ocean Township, South Toms River, Manchester Township, and The Borough of Lakehurst. The goal of On P.O.I.N.T. is to provide outreach, support, and services to community residents who interact with law enforcement. On P.O.I.N.T. works to intervene in crises that police are called to in hopes that social work intervention can stabilize the issues and reduce or eliminate the need for law enforcement intervention.
Meet one of our licensed social workers who works as a clinician in OceanMHS’ On P.O.I.N.T. Program: Angelica. Prior to working in On P.O.I.N.T, Anjelica worked in OceanMHS’ PATH program, which assists homeless community residents with mental illness. Anjelica immediately met the siblings to learn more about their situation and needs.
From the moment they met, Anjelica has assisted them with applying for housing and other necessary services. She assisted in arranging food for them and their adorable dog, in addition to locating places where they could regularly bathe. Anjelica has remained a steady point of contact and assistance for them, helping to advocate, clarify, and provide emotional support when needed.
A global pandemic could not stop her from helping these siblings. Anjelica would find outdoor spaces to safely meet so they could use her laptop to apply for services online and free, hot meals at local churches and food banks. Anjelica continued to assist them in their search for an available rental where their housing voucher would be accepted. Throughout the winter months, living out of a car proved dangerous in the colder temperatures. The wonderful people at Just Believe Inc offered shelter for the siblings during Code Blue, and the Affordable Housing Alliance assisted them with staying in a motel during the winter months.
Successful Homeless Outreach
In January 2021, the siblings were awarded a housing voucher through HabCorp! They finally would have a place to live after spending so much time living out of their car. Given the congested housing market, finding an available and suitable rental proved to be challenging. However, the siblings and Anjelica did not give up.
In early August, a suitable rental was found and the siblings were approved to move in with their housing voucher from HabCorp! They could move in immediately. Since they had been living out of their car for so long, they did not have many furnishings for a house. Anjelica assisted the siblings in applying for a gift card from the Lumineer Foundation to purchase household items at Habitat from Humanity. Through the generosity of the Lumineer Foundation and Habitat for Humanity, they have been able to furnish their new home and move in quickly. The Ocean Cares Foundation Food Pantry provided food and staples to assist them in settling into their new home and the On P.O.I.N.T. program provided household cleaning supplies they requested.
For her dedication in assisting these siblings, Anjelica was nominated for OceanMHS’ Healthcare Hero award by her supervisor, Meghan Corrigan. Anjelica was chosen as the winner on 8/13/21. Anjelica is pictured with the siblings she helped secure stable housing at their new home.