The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County celebrated the grand opening of its newly renovated family service and resource center in Montclair.
IHN provides shelter and assistance to homeless families. Participating houses of worship serve as host congregations, offering food, lodging, and volunteers on a rotating basis.
Locally, 29 houses of worship, including many synagogues, serve as host congregation. An additional 40 congregations provide volunteers and financial support.
Members from a number of area synagogues participated in the June 10 event. Lori Jacobs and Jill Altmark of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills were key organizers of the opening along with volunteers from other faith communities.
The event honored local officials who were instrumental in securing a Community Development Block Grant for IHN that has helped them move families into permanent housing.
“We are grateful for these funds that will enable IHN to secure two additional transitional housing units in Montclair this year,” IHN executive director Tia Aery said in a prepared statement. “These apartments make a big difference for families who need this interim step before becoming completely self-sufficient.”
The June 10 ceremony also honored local foundations that have given grants to IHN for transitional housing, a children’s enrichment program, and office renovations.
IHN was founded by marketing executive Karen Olson in Union County in 1986. A second branch was opened in Essex County in 1988, with Morris County following soon after with its Interfaith Council for the Homeless. The idea grew into a national organization known as Family Promise, with affiliates in 40 states and headquarters in Summit.
The Essex County headquarters was located in the First Presbyterian and Trinity Church in South Orange until last September, when it moved into the new Montclair location, at 46 Park St.
The Jewish community has been active in the organization’s development from the beginning. Rabbi Charles Kroloff, religious leader emeritus of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, helped Olson establish the first organization; Sylvia Orenstein of Congregation Beth El in South Orange was a founding board member of the Essex County affiliate; and Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange was one of the original host congregations in Essex County.