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1/31/09 Volume 4, Issue 9

You are receiving Sharing Neighborhoods as a registered subscriber. Sharing Neighborhoods is a publication of New Jersey SHARES, on the web at

What's New
NJ SHARES announces an important change in application eligibility.

NJ SHARES establishes income cap

NJ SHARES recognizes the extreme economic crisis facing our neighbors across the state and the overwhelming need for energy assistance. We have determined that an income cap will provide a safety net for those most at risk. We continue to be concerned for those households above this threshold that are having difficulties with their energy burden, however, the cap would provide assistance for middle and fixed income households most at risk. Consistent with this analysis, our Board has adopted guidelines capping eligibility for energy assistance grants at 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Applicants over 65 years of age and recipients of Social Security Disability with households of two or less members will be eligible for NJ SHARES if the household income maximum is 70,000 dollars annually or 5,833 dollars monthly. The applicant must show proof of age and/or the federal SSD benefit.


Jim Jacob, executive director

A word from the executive director

January has been a time for reflection. We look back at the year that just ended, while planning for the next 12 months. As it was for so many people, 2008 was a memorable year at NJ SHARES. As you can recall from our previous issue, we ended the year with Governor Corzine signing a bill that granted us $10 million for energy bill payment assistance. We received the first installment of those funds earlier this month, allowing us to reach so many more of our neighbors who are in danger of not having their heat during the coldest months of the year. We are very grateful to Governor Corzine, the Legislature, the Department of the Treasury, and the Board of Public Utilities for making this funding available. We also want to extend our thanks to you, our community partners. We could never accomplish our important work without your support.

As 2009 begins, we are excited about our partnership with the Department of Community Affairs, which will allow NJ SHARES to expand the services we offer our communities. We are in the process of creating a call center to answer LIHEAP and USF inquiries. Our staff will be able to handle a wide range of questions such as who is eligible, how to enroll, and what is the status of applications. Watch for more details in future communications

Making a Difference is what we do at the NJ SHARES Client Services Call Center

It was a busy year for the NJ SHARES Client Services Call Center in Hamilton, NJ. In 2008, the client services representatives handled nearly 100,000 calls! The Client Services Call Center also completed numerous written correspondence and other projects throughout the year. The work done by these dedicated professionals identifies clients who should be receiving the Communications Lifeline Program and assists the clients and Verizon, NJ to make sure the enrollment processes are successful and that customers receive benefits. Our dedicated Client Services Call Center is the only one in the nation.

Darcy Dobens, executive director, Lisa Wilson, program director, and Murphy Wilson pause for a picture during Bring Your Pet to Work-Day.

Spotlight on Long Branch Concordance

Concordance means to bring people together to help each other and the meaning of that word is beautifully illustrated in Long Branch. In an office on the third floor of the municipal building, the Long Branch Concordance dispenses information and referrals for an extensive menu of questions and needs from its guests.

“We asked them what they wanted to be called and they said guests,” explained Darcy Dobens, executive director. “They are our guests. They visit us for awhile, use our services and get what they need. If we have done our jobs well, they don’t have to come back.”

The Long Branch Concordance was founded in March 2004 at a meeting attended by nearly 100 people, consisting of residents, business owners, faith-based organizations, non-profits and care-givers. Since the local welfare office closed, there was no center to coordinate services in the city. They determined there was a need for a central agency where residents could receive information, referrals and resources from existing organizations. In addition, the new agency would be a link between all the available resources and could identify gaps in services. The Long Branch Concordance was born.

In a short four years, the Concordance has been designated a Family Success Center, a state-sponsored program whose objective is to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Said Darcy, “It is more than parenting classes. If a family has no heat, they are under a lot of stress. We work to get families the support and services they need to be healthy and successful.”

That means providing a business center where guests can research jobs and use the phone and copier, matching guests with service providers and monthly networking meetings, to name just a few of the services. Above all, the staff is always listening.

“We have a parent advisory board and some of our guests are on it,” said Darcy. “They let us know if we are doing a good job and advise us on what we need to be doing.”

Barbara Gomes, Director of Outreach for NJ SHARES said, “The NJ SHARES agency network has grown in 2008 by 34 new agencies operating out of 36 sites. This brings the NJ SHARES network reach to 185 agencies operating out of 236 sites statewide. Long Branch Concordance is a terrific example of the good work that is done by our partners all over the state. We thank all our agencies for their efforts to assist our clients - everyday.”

Did you know

Of the respondents to the website’s needs assessment survey, 68 percent have identified utility assistance as an urgent need. Since the Utility Assistance Guide was posted on 211’s website, it was downloaded 43,000 times.

Agency Toolbox: Grant Processing Team: Faces behind the Voices

Questions and comments that NJ SHARES representatives hear during intake agency visits involve the grant processing team. The curiosity is understandable. The grant processing representatives are the voices at the end of the phone answering questions, handling applications, resolving emergency cases, and often taking hundreds of calls a week. It is easy to see how those relationships are formed. So here are the faces behind the voices: (left to right) Lilly Garcia, Cheryl Henderson, Kate Berrien, Deonzea Ingram, Stephani Villari and (in front) Cheryl Miner. Not pictured: Jill Pierce, Rob Warrick and Dave Warrick.

• Our network of intake agencies can download our latest training packets from our website. The update versions include NJ SHARES’ income caps. There are two training packets, one for gas and electric grants and the other for deliverable fuels like oil and propane.

• When faxing back-up materials for multiple clients, our grant processing team asks that separate faxes be sent for each applicant; that means, re-dialing for each application. When multiple sets of back-up information are sent as one fax, they run together. Because faxes are automatically converted to an electronic file, sending more than one client per fax makes it difficult to decipher one client from another. Such confusion could lead to a client being denied for lack of back-up material.

• Reminder: Funding is available in all counties and to all heating type customers under the Home Energy Assistance Fund. Feel free to call an outreach team member if you have any questions. Phone numbers are included in the packet.

New Jersey SHARES |
1901 North Olden Avenue Extention Suite 1-A | Ewing, NJ 08618-2111
Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email
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New Jersey SHARES
1901 North Olden Avenue Extension, Suite 1A | Ewing, NJ 08618
Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email
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