In 1988, a group of faith-based congregations assembled from across Monmouth County to address the issue of homelessness. From that first meeting, Interfaith Neighbors [IFN] was born.
1988: When Interfaith Neighbors was founded, we concentrated our efforts on assisting low-income families by providing subsidies to assist them in avoiding delinquency, foreclosure, or eviction. Today, our Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program continues these principles we were founded on, offering assistance with rent arrears, mortgage payments or security deposits in support of working families facing short-term financial setbacks.
1991: Interfaith Neighbors began operating the Monmouth County Meals on Wheels Program. This program provides nutritious meals to seven senior citizen congregate sites across Monmouth County and delivers approximately 1,100 meals each weekday to disabled and homebound seniors over the age of 60.
1996: Interfaith Neighbors began a partnership with New Jersey Natural Gas to renovate abandoned homes and build new affordable ones in Asbury Park and Neptune Township. This started our Affordable Housing Program, which turns vacant lots into affordable homes for first time, low-income homeowners. The program also puts these properties back on the municipality’s tax rolls, and ultimately improves the community.
2007: Interfaith Neighbors had a plan approved by the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) under the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program (NRTC) to revitalize the Westside of Asbury Park. The NRTC Program seeks to support the community through affordable housing, supporting social programs, encouraging business growth and strengthening the community in various other ways.
2011: The Business Development Center (BDC) was established to help entrepreneurs grow their current businesses or start new ones. The BDC offers a combination of business support services and incubator facilities. Mentoring is provided by experienced staff to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in achieving their goals.
2013: The Kula Café Training Program opened as a social enterprise addressing high unemployment and the lack of workforce training available in the Asbury Park area. Training and skills development took place in a working eatery, giving neighbors the opportunity to learn marketable skills while enjoying good food at a fair price. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Kula Cafe closed to the public.
2014: Opening in 2014, the Kula Urban Farm was developed to address the shortage of fresh, affordable produce in the Asbury Park community. This social enterprise is designed to meet the needs of restaurant owners for locally grown produce, while simultaneously providing a bridge back to employment for local residents with jobs offered at the farm. The Kula Urban Farm also offers opportunities for community engagement through youth education and adult workshops.
2016: Interfaith Neighbors applied and was awarded the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation Implementation Grant. This is a five-year grant that allows Community Outreach work to flourish. IFN Community Outreach Specialist acts as a liaison between the IFN programs, local community programs and services, and community members. This work also includes hosting or participating in community events and community revitalization efforts, such as our Asbury Park mural projects.
2019: Interfaith Neighbors’ SOAR Program kicked off their “pilot” cohort in January 2019 and has been changing lives ever since. SOAR helps those who qualify maximize their potential and SOAR into a career. SOAR Colleagues participate in our intensive success skills training, earn a scholarship into a fast-track professional certification program and become eligible for a wide range of support services to ensure their success.
2021: Launch Center opened its doors in September 2021 to help individuals identify and take that ‘first step’ toward improving their personal situation. A broad range of services are offered and designed to adapt to individual needs. These include the Help Desk, various workshops, work experience programs, life coaching, and the established SOAR Program and BDC.
In 2021, Interfaith Neighbors was also selected by the Reinvestment Fund to participate in the Building Healthier More Equitable Communities (BHEC) Program and to lead a BHEC multi-disciplinary collaborative representing Asbury Park. This program is funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the three other participating New Jersey cities: Paterson, Camden and Newark. One of the main initiatives of BHEC in Asbury Park is the Community Food Connection, a community-led coalition that connects food pantries and other community spaces with each other to share resources and have a greater impact on eliminating nutritional insecurity.
2023: Interfaith Neighbors opened the doors of the Dr. Lorenzo Harris Jr. Early Childhood Learning Center [ECLC] in September 2023. It continues Interfaith Neighbors’ support of the Westside neighborhood by bringing safe and affordable education and care to the community’s youngest members, allowing parents to work, go to school, and care for extended family. Initially, the ECLC focuses its efforts on teaching and caring for children ages 3 months to 3 years old.
Our Founding Congregations
Without the support of our founding congregations and their commitment to those we serve, IFN would not have grown into the organization it is today.
- St. Mary’s Church, Deal
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement, Asbury Park
- St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church, West Long Branch
- Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls
- Tower Hill First Presbyterian Church of Red Bank
- First United Methodist Church, Oakhurst
- Church of St. Anselm, Wayside
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