OCEAN COUNTY – While the governor has issued orders for everyone to stay at home unless on emergency business, there are some who don’t have a home to begin with.
“It is hard right now for the homeless in Ocean and Monmouth counties,” said Minister Steve Brigham, a longtime advocate for local homeless. “A lot of pantries have closed, and the ones that are still open, a lot of them have cut back their hours.”
Due to the virus, everyone has to be careful about exposure to the public.
“The churches that were hosting dinners for the homeless have stopped doing dinners. I’m getting calls from the homeless almost every day saying they need food and water,” he said.
Paul Hulse, the CEO/President of Just Believe, Inc. said his group has been working with private agencies and the Board of Social Services to get them temporary housing. They’ve successfully housed 10 people as of press time.
“When the homeless get sick they either call us here at Just Believe Inc, call 911, or go to the hospital. One person contracted COVID-19 and we initially got her housed in a motel but we ran out of money and now she is living in her car because she doesn’t want to get anyone else sick,” he said.
The volunteers working with the population wear masks and gloves, he said.
“We have served 4,200 (an average of 700 a week) families and individuals by providing them meals and crisis boxes during the pandemic. We have delivered meals and food to the disabled and families that cannot leave their house,” he said.
“We have been feeding the homeless in downtown Toms River seven days a week in collaboration with the Toms River Community Church and Alive Again Alliance Church. We also provide them with hand sanitizer and masks. We work with a few churches that allow the homeless to come in to wash up or use the bathroom. In addition, we are working with the Tom River Township Police Department to ensure the safety of the homeless by periodically checking on them to see if they are OK,” he said.
How To Help
There are a few easy ways to help the homeless make it through this difficult time.
A donation to Just Believe can be made at justbelieveinc.org/donate/
They can also be given to Destiny’s Bridge, Brigham’s organization, through Destinysbridge.org, mailed to Destiny’s Bridge, PO Box 692, Lakewood NJ, 08701, or sent through PayPal at Destinysbridgefoundation@gmail.com.
“The food is going out, and being used as fast as it comes in,” he said. Suggested items for donation include: Hearty soups, Ramen noodles, tuna fish/canned chicken, peanut butter and jelly, bread, water, juices, snacks and gift cards to BJs for propane.
Brigham has some good Samaritans that allow their property to be drop-off locations for supplies for the homeless. He goes around and picks them up. The items can be dropped off at these locations:
Ian MacKenzie Smith
10 Bucknell Dr.
South Toms River
M-F 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Please leave behind the van in the driveway.
72 Maxim Dr.
Please leave in front of the garage.
1 Lorelei Dr.
Please leave bags on porch.
51 John McGuckin Dr.
Please leave items on front porch.