Donor Highlights

It is with deep gratitude that we recognize and acknowledge our donors for their continued dedication and support of Interfaith Neighbor’s mission, programs and services across Monmouth County. 

Donor Highlight | Hackensack Meridian Health System | June 2023


This is the sixth year that Hackensack Meridian Health System (HMHS) has been investing in “Healthy Communities” through a relationship with Interfaith Neighbors, focusing on the “social determinants of health.” This investment has been centered on healthy eating and access to healthy foods, but it has also supported community education initiatives. Initially, HMHS invested in IFN’s Kula Urban Farm’s Farm Without Borders, but last year, they expanded their support to include the BHEC Program’s Community Food Connection.

“Our work to address the social determinants of health, including housing, nutrition, wellness, workforce development, and early child education mirrors the work HMHS wants to support across the many communities its footprint covers,” noted Chip Craig, Co-Executive Director and Chief Business Officer at IFN. “Working together to address the many facets of a community’s health makes for a positive impact.”

HMHS’s funding of the Community Food Connection directly supports the purchase of farm-fresh, local produce from Fernbrook Farms. This produce is distributed to 17 food pantries in the Asbury Park area every week for the entire growing season. Last year, 200 families were supported with this fresh, weekly produce, and this year Community Food Connection is expanding its capacity to 400 families weekly.

“It’s encouraging that Hackensack Meridian identifies the connection between health and food and is dedicated to providing funding to Community Food Connection,” Karyn Moskowitz, BHEC Coordinator, stated. Moskowitz is adamant that access to fresh, healthy produce can be preventative to many of the health issues residents in food deserts, like Asbury Park, face. Hackensack Meridian is doing great work to promote health in the community. They are not just treating the issues when they arise but are working to be ahead of health issues that are caused by insufficient diets and living habits. This is in line with the BHEC Initiative’s mission to address the social determinants of health through changes in the built environment and community system.

“We could not do this important work of keeping our community healthy without Hackensack Meridian, and all our other donors. Access to a consistent supply of fresh produce is the basis of a vibrant and thriving community so we are thrilled with the support.” Karyn explained.

Donor Highlight | The Jules L. Plangere, Jr. Family Foundation | December 2022

In 2021, the Cooper family was one of the families adopted by the Plangere Foundation.

“The Holidays are the best time of the year, especially at Interfaith” exclaimed Judy Nelan, manager of the Rental & Mortgage Assistance Program. Interfaith’s Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program runs an Adopt A Family Program during the Holiday Season, where donors are matched with struggling families to provide them gifts for their children. Judy explained that the Jules L. Plangere, Jr. Family Foundation is an essential component of the Adopt A Family program. In addition to matching families with donors, Rental and Mortgage Assistance selects families who have received assistance from them during the year to receive “extra love” around the holidays in the form of rent arrears or gifts, all provided by funding from the Plangere Foundation.

“Plangere allows us to assist families who we know have been having a difficult time. It gives them space to enjoy the holidays with their families, rather than worry about owed expenses due to unexpected financial setbacks. The grant also comes at the perfect time of year when we are usually lower on funding, waiting for grants to be renewed in January.” Judy stated.

Donor Highlight |Monmouth County Office on Aging, Disabilities & Veterans| March 2022

Since 1991, when Interfaith Neighbors began offering the Senior Nutrition/Meals on Wheels program, the Monmouth County Office on Aging, Disabilities & Veterans Services (Office on Aging) has been our lead partner in operating the program. 

The Office on Aging was established by the County Board of Commissioners in 1975 and utilizes federal, state and county funds to develop programs and partnerships to deliver essential services to the seniors of Monmouth County. Their objective is to enhance the quality of life of Monmouth County Older Adults and their caregivers with respect, care and accountability.  They advocate for the elderly by advising local governments on the needs of older adults, recommending legislation where appropriate, and monitoring all programs funded under Title III of the Older Americans Act. In addition to the Interfaith Neighbors Senior Nutrition/Meals on Wheels program, Title III of the Older Americans Act also provides supportive services for information and assistance, outreach, benefits screening, legal assistance, nutrition education and counseling, transportation, certified home health aides, housekeeping, senior centers, Adult Protective Services, residential maintenance, telephone reassurance, friendly visiting, child care/Grandparent raising grandchildren, physical health, physical fitness, education and socialization/recreation. 

“Monmouth County is committed to assisting our most vulnerable residents and the work that Sue Moleon and the entire Division on Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Services clearly exemplifies this commitment,” said Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone. “We are grateful to Interfaith Neighbors and all of our community partners for working with us to serve our senior citizens.”

This county agency not only provides funding, but support and expertise to non-profit service providers across the county who serve senior citizens. They are a wonderful resource to senior citizens and their families in connecting to resources or navigating the social services network. 

“The Monmouth County Office on Aging provides irreplaceable assistance in helping us execute on our daily program of providing 1,100 meals to homebound and congregate senior sites across Monmouth County. Led by director Sue Moleon, and her team of Sam Pandure, Linda Jensen and Cherry San, their combined decades of experience and expertise help us navigate the multitude of questions that arise through our work on the various grants we receive to undertake Interfaith Neighbors’ largest agency program,” comments Chip Craig, Interfaith’s Associate Executive Director and Chief Business Officer. “They are always available for consultation, never too busy, and always with a mind-set of helping us find answers and solutions to the questions and challenges we might be encountering.”

Interfaith Neighbors is grateful for their continued financial support and expertise in helping us to ensure that Monmouth County senior citizens do not have to choose between their housing or medications and a healthy meal. The Senior Nutrition/Meals on Wheels program is Interfaith Neighbors largest program both in terms of operating budget and staff and volunteers. The Monmouth County Office on Aging works with us to help enroll new senior citizen clients into the program, administers the bulk of the funding to support the program, and assists us with purchasing and connections to other service providers.

Donor Highlight | Anonymous Donor is Changing Lives| November 2021

Interfaith Neighbors is truly blessed to have the many loyal and generous donors that have supported our mission over the past 33 years. Some of you have been giving from the very earliest days of our founding. Some have just discovered Interfaith Neighbors, connected by a friend or someone in the community. Regardless, it is all of you that makes our tag line, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” ring true.

The donor we would like to draw your attention to has requested anonymity, but has agreed to let us share her story, hoping to inspire others to give. For the purposes of this story, we will call her the Good Neighbor.

Over the years, the Good Neighbor family has been regular, loyal supporters of Interfaith Neighbors. About four years ago, she decided to come by our offices for a visit before making her annual gift. After speaking with Joe Marmora and members of the Interfaith Neighbors team, the Good Neighbor decided to increase her year-end annual gift to $10,000! What a wonderful surprise.

The next year, the donor came back for another visit and this time took a tour of Interfaith Neighbors’ Kula Urban Farm and our Asbury Park Westside neighborhood programs. She learned about the Kula Cafe Hospitality Training program and the new SOAR Program that was just getting underway, and it was these workforce development programs that the donor really connected with – helping individuals enter the workforce, participate in education programs to allow them to advance in their jobs, and through these programs improve the community and their families’ futures. For the next two years, this special donor continued to donate $10,000 each year, but now focused on these jobs programs.

In late 2020, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic shutdowns, Interfaith Neighbors began talking with the Good Neighbor about the impact of the pandemic on the families that we serve through our programs. So many people had lost their jobs or had their hours or wages reduced and were struggling financially. We shared how during this time, here at Interfaith Neighbors, we took the opportunity to retool our jobs and career programs, expanding their reach to serve a broader sectrion of the community while combining all of these services under the newly named Launch Center. Seeing the impact of the pandemic and the need in the community that we were successfully addressing, she decided to invest in our work in a significant way. Shortly therafter, a contribution arrived from the Good Neighbor in the amount of $100,000!

“We decided to make this contribution because these programs are helping young people. It’s giving them a boost to get the education they need to secure a good job or overcome the challenges that are keeping them out of the workplace. It helps those that have been incarcerated, who are struggling to get back into the workforce, find a path,” says the Good Neighbor.

The Good Neighbor grew up as a member of a congregation committed to social action both locally and internationally. Giving back and helping others has always been a part of her life. She and her family have been philanthropic supporters of charitable organizations over the years including providing technology to schools in Israel, funding endowments at Trinity College, and supporting their local congregation. When the family relocated to this area, they joined one of Interfaith Neighbors founding congregations – Monmouth Reform Temple, which is also dedicated to social action. Sally Priesand, President of the Board of Trustees at Interfaith Neighbors, served as the Rabbi at Monmouth Reform Temple until her retirement. Our Good Neighbor credits Rabbi Sally for her connection to Interfaith Neighbors. Rabbi Sally says, “This generous donor understands the true meaning of the Hebrew word tz’dakah. Most people translate it as charity, but literally it means righteousness. In other words, we give charity because it is the right thing to do, and the best way to count our blessings is by making our blessings count.”

If you are interested in one of Interfaith Neighbors’ programs or services, please give us a call to arrange a visit or a tour. It may just inspire you to get more involved as a volunteer or donor!

Donor Highlight | Funding Growth | June 2021

Interfaith Neighbors, Inc. received its first grant from the Elizabeth & Barets O. Benjamin Charitable Foundation in 2011. To date, they have provided philanthropic support totaling $245,000 changing the trajectory of many lives served by Interfaith Neighbors.

The Benjamin Foundation works to share the legacy of Mrs. Elizabeth Benjamin, a strong, independent woman who was ahead of her time in many ways. Their grants are focused in two areas – supporting adolescent girls and older women through their W.I.S.E. (Women of Independence, Strength and Education) Initiative and a focus on youth development and college access with a special focus on Monmouth County, where Mrs. Benjamin had lived for the majority of her life.

Since the start of our relationship with the Benjamin Foundation, they have been a wonderful partner investing in new ideas and programs designed to serve individuals from the greater Asbury Park area striving to change their futures.

“The Benjamin Foundation was our first investor in Interfaith’s new social enterprise, the Kula Cafe, back in 2012, designed to prepare young adults for work in the expanding hospitality industry in Asbury Park and to bring a local eatery with healthy options to the Westside neighborhood,” says Paul L. McEvily, Executive Director of Interfaith Neighbors.

He continues, “They funded the concept and stuck with us as we got the initiative off the ground. They believed in our goal to train young people from the community with the basic skills they would need for that first job and those specific skills to be successful in a local restaurant. We learned a lot in those first few years. Primarily, that many of the people we were training needed help with more than just training for a job. They were facing challenges around transportation, childcare, housing, etc.”

Two years after Interfaith Neighbors launched the Kula Urban Farm, the Benjamin Foundation took another leap with us as we expanded our workforce development programs to include the Farm Experience Program, targeted to those individuals who were returning to the workforce needing a short-term work experience to kick-start their job search. In 2016, they allowed us to apply their funding to both the Kula Cafe and the Kula Farm training programs.

The Benjamin Foundation’s consistent funding over the years has allowed Interfaith Neighbors to develop, grow and refine its workforce development programs. Most recently, the Benjamin Foundation continues to support us as we announce the opening of the Launch Center. The Launch Center, a collection of programs and services that meet people where they are, address their barriers to personal and economic success, and help them to identify their goals and a pathway forward to achieve those goals. All of Interfaith Neighbors’ workforce development programs now fall under the Launch Center along with our SOAR career training program and our Business Development Center.

“The Interfaith Neighbors team has done an impressive job designing creative programs to train Asbury Park youth for local employment opportunities,” says Peter Lasser, Chair of the Benjamin Foundation Board. “They pay close attention to the full array of supports that program participants need in order to be successful, and have also developed strong and effective relationships with the broader community.”

We are grateful for the consistent and loyal support we have received from the Benjamin Foundation. Their support has truly changed the lives of over 100 individuals who have benefited from these programs.

Donor Highlight | Neighborhood Transformation | December 2020

“This is a state tax credit program that really works,” Interfaith Neighbors Executive Director Paul McEvily has said repeatedly.

His comment refers to New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs’ Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program, a fundamental part of IFN’s development projects, and support of community initiatives in Asbury Park’s West Side neighborhood.

Established in 2006, the NRTC program encourages investment in distressed neighborhoods via a 100 percent tax credit for New Jersey corporations with a state tax liability. Over the past 12 years, IFN has received over $8 million in tax credit investments to fund construction  and programming focused on the West Side neighborhood of Asbury Park. IFN has allocated over $1 million from this program to over 20 community initiatives led by other area non-profits. Investors in IFN’s NRTC projects include New Jersey Natural Gas, NJ American Water, M&T Bank, among others.

“The reason this program is a success is the leveraging  opportunities it has created to attract additional capital to the Asbury Park community,” McEvily said.

They include the $15 million in infrastructure improvements the City of Asbury Park completed in the Springwood Avenue corridor during IFN’s construction of the Springwood Center and the mortgage financing afforded to local homebuyers.

Construction of IFN’s Kula Urban Farm and the adjacent Springwood Center were supported by the NRTC program.

NRTC investments have supported our Kula Café and Kula Urban Farm social enterprises, as well as our SOAR workforce development program. Interfaith Neighbors was also able to support Community Affairs and Resource Center’s (CARC) workforce program, the local Big Brother and Big Sister mentoring initiative, the Monmouth County Boys & Girls Club Junior Entrepreneur Program, Second Baptist Church’s Fine Art & Technology youth summer camp, the Women’s Hospitality Network’s support for females experiencing homelessness, and the popular Asbury Park Music Foundation’s Music Mondays in the Park free concert series.

IFN’s latest project to receive NRTC investments is the Parkview AP development. As a state-certified home developer, IFN has constructed over 55 affordable homes in the West Side neighborhood.

Parkview AP, a 10-lot project along Springwood Avenue, stands out among other affordable housing projects in Asbury Park because of its focus on homeownership and its income property component, said Patrick Durkin, IFN’s Director of Real Estate Development.

Architectural rendering of the completed Parkview AP homes.

“Currently only 25 percent of people own their homes in Asbury Park,” said Durkin, who maintains that the best way to transform a distressed community is by increasing the opportunity for its residents to become homeowners.

Each Parkview AP lot features a three bedroom, two and one-half bath single family home fronting Springwood Avenue and a one-bedroom apartment above the adjacent garage.  The owner-occupied development affords one the ability to live in one home while renting out the other. And while this is a mixed-income housing project, primarily targeting low to moderate-income families and individuals, it also addresses a group often overlooked – middle market homebuyers unable to afford the rising market rate home prices in Asbury Park. The first home is projected to be finished in February with the next two following closely behind.

In October, the NJ Department of Community Affairs NRTC program announced a new funding program for small businesses located in NRTC neighborhoods. As many small businesses are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis restrictions, the agency has made funding availalble to assist small businesses with rent, utilities, and COVID-related expenses.  IFN, working with the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce applied for and received $133,000 in funding for West Side neighborhood affected businesses. These funds are meant to keep them on their feet until it is safe to ease restrictions again, McEvily said.

Donor Highlight | The Stone Foundation of New Jersey | September 2019

The Stone Foundation of New Jersey was founded in 1998 by members of the Huber family. To date, the family has awarded over $5 million in grant funding, with a focus on Monmouth County. The Stone Foundation works with organizations that are intent on community building or the environment. They look to see how an agency fits into the broader fabric of the communities they serve.

The Stone Foundation first became involved with the revitalization of the West Side neighborhood of Asbury Park when they joined with the Monmouth Conservation Foundation to provide the balance of funds needed by the City of Asbury Park for the construction of Springwood Park.

Most recently, they awarded Interfaith Neighbors a $15,000 grant in support of the SOAR program. “The interconnectedness of Interfaith Neighbors’ programs, which are really addressing the needs of the community, and focusing on the existing residents is what led us to support Interfaith Neighbors. And, SOAR is an extraordinary example of that,” says Sam Huber.
Interfaith Neighbors is grateful for the continued support of the revitalization of the West Side neighborhood of Asbury Park by the Stone Foundation of New Jersey.

The Interfaith Neighbors Network