From South Orange Village:
The Township of South Orange Village is pleased to celebrate the first anniversary of its Community care and justice program launch. Over the next month, the Community Care & Justice team will be hosting a Listen, learn and share tour to further identify social service needs, share community wellness tips and trends, and seek donations to augment the pilot year program budget provided by the Township, Essex County and the Seton Hall University.
The Community Care & Justice (CC&J) program was launched by South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and aims to “reimagine” traditional models of public safety through the broader lens of community wellbeing, putting more emphasis emphasis on crisis prevention and referral of first responders to mental health services. health professionals and social service providers. The program is overseen by Administrator Donna Coallier, Chair of the Village Public Health and Safety Committee, and led by Program Director Jayme Ganey, MA, LPC.
“Our timing couldn’t have been better,” village chairman Collum said. “So many people are feeling distress, whether from the ongoing impact of the pandemic or the racial trauma that has culminated in an urgent demand for action and police reform following the murder of George Floyd. This is a work in progress and the success of the pilot year is a true testament to community engagement, buy-in from law enforcement professionals and our collective desire to learn and adapt. to the needs of people in and around our village.
During 2021, the CC&J team focused on engaging in conversations and community networks, building an infrastructure for data analysis and research, rolling out a survey to collecting resident feedback, analyzing available data for first responders, and designing outreach program policies and procedures. The CC&J network now includes first responders, school resources, neighboring municipalities, community organizations, mental wellness and educational organizations, and academic institutions with social justice initiatives.
CC&J Outreach officially began receiving referrals on October 18, 2021. To help first responders make referrals and better serve the community, the Outreach Team is providing mental health awareness training to the South Police Department Orange and the South Orange Rescue Squad. Referral follow-up includes supportive counseling and case management services for those affected by issues such as mental health crisis, racial trauma, substance use, domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness, etc. CC&J Outreach has also scheduled “office hours” at police headquarters where they can speak with officers about mental health issues and collaborate on the referral program.
“Our outreach program is a key priority for 2022,” Trustee Coallier said. “Right now, law enforcement professionals and emergency medical technicians are referring those who could benefit from social work services to our outreach team. We would like to integrate this initial response to the crisis into support on place as we gain more experience and strengthen our funding sources.
CC&J’s educational programming spans a broad spectrum of mental health and wellness, from anxiety and depression awareness to addressing trauma and racial bias. Initiatives have included the launch of a wellness series offering youth anxiety management, suicide prevention and other relevant mental health topics, as well as several collaborations with Seton Hall University, including an 8-week social justice activation collaboration led by Dr. Jamila T. Davis and Dr. Juan Rios. of which guided participants through a social service development program and awarded two teams with start-up funds to implement community services. Other Seton Hall collaborations include the Community Peace and Justice Lecture Series featuring civil rights icon Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. in conversation with young community activists and a platform of immersive virtual reality through which a participant can “incarnate” an avatar confronted with racism.
“I’m impressed with all the accomplishments in just one year,” said Jayme Ganey, who was hired in December to lead the program. “I am deeply grateful to take on this exciting new role and to work with an incredible team of professionals and volunteers to advance our mission and program goals.
The full review of the year 2021CC&J is available on the Village’s website: www.southorange.org/806/Community-Care-Justice
Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to Community Care & Justice can make a check payable to the Township of South Orange Village with “Community Care & Justice” listed in the memo, and mail it to South Orange Village at 76 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, New Jersey, 07079.