Morris County’s Navigating Hope mobile social services team recently completed their 100th stop as part of unique program launched by the Board of Freeholders in 2019, and which has crisscrossed Morris County on wheels for the past eight months to help residents in need of assistance.
Many times working in tandem with Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon’s Hope One mobile addictions services, Navigating Hope seeks out clients who cannot get to county social services offices in Morris Township and Dover due to transportation, family or physical issues, among others.
The mobile program visit supermarkets, libraries, churches, train stations, soup kitchens, shopping malls, and many other locations to reach county residents in need of assistance.
The Board of Freeholders were briefed on the team’s first year on the road, which began with a June 6, 2019 stop at the Dover Free Produce Market at the Salvation Army and made its 100th stop outside of landlord-tenant court which is held in the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown.
“I am so proud of this team. Having been out in the field a number of time with them, watching them interact with our residents, it is heartwarming to see what they are doing,” said Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo. “There are people who just can’t get out in our county and don’t have the wherewithal to navigate the social services process on their own.”
“Morris County is the accessible county,” added Freeholder Director Deborah Smith. “If you can’t get to us, we’ll get to you. I think that’s the whole point behind Navigating Hope.”
Navigating Hope team members, including coordinator Christopher Linne, Rewaida Muheisen of the county Office of Temporary Assistance, and Ashley Reed of Family Promise of Morris County, made a presentation to the freeholders at their county government work session in Morristown.
Linne explained that the mobile operation has visited 31 of the county’s 39 municipalities, with Victory Gardens to be number 32 in March. Due to need, they have visited some locations multiple times, especially when they have found a community in need.
They have partnered with numerous organizations in the county, including the countywide library network, Legal Services of Northwest Jersey, Homeless Solutions, senior housing complexes, soup kitchens, and religious institutions, among others, to expand the reach of Navigating Hope.
In 2019, the Navigating Hope team completed nearly 300 applications or client evaluations for service and made more than 150 referrals to other social services organizations, in addition to providing information to hundreds more county residents.
To reach more residents in need in 2020, Navigating Hope has expanded to a four-day-week operation, including a permanent weekly stop at the landlord-tenant court, where they have found a real need for their mobile services.