A Night to Remember

Friends of JBWS including the Board of Directors, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (11th District), NJ State Senator Anthony Bucco, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn and over 100 donors and volunteers all gathered in person for the first time in 16 months to celebrate the agency’s 45th Anniversary.
One attendee observed, “As one of the first domestic violence agencies in the country, the innovation, accomplishments and initiatives launched by JBWS make it a national model and I am proud to be a community partner.”

Anniversary Proclamations Make it Official
Highlights of the evening included ceremonial resolutions presented to Diane Williams by Congresswoman Sherrill, Senator Bucco, Assemblywoman Dunn and Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen.

Acknowledging Donors, Volunteers and Staff
The event also acknowledged staff, donors and volunteers who made heroic efforts to insure the accessibility and continuity of services throughout the pandemic.

In recognizing the Crisis Response Team (CRT) volunteers, Robin Hughes, CRT Manager shared a look back on 2020: “During the pandemic and all the accompanying stressors, our Crisis Response Team volunteers stepped up to ensure that victims got connected to services, meeting in police stations, parking lots, homes, and lobbies. Our CRTs helped 610 victims in 2020, providing safety planning and a high level of service under the most extraordinary circumstances and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”

Donors and volunteers were also thanked for going above and beyond to help JBWS clients, not allowing a pandemic lockdown to prevent them from helping others. Longtime donors called Diane Williams directly to ask if the agency needed anything and responded swiftly by dropping off PPE gear, masks and gloves, as well as food and funds to help support the Children’s Program and Summer Camp.

Lynne Acla, Volunteer and In-Kind Donations Manager shared, “Children’s Program volunteers provided stability and routine for the children, by being with them on a regular basis. Although we were forced to suspend the volunteer program in March 2020, our volunteers also continued to support us by sewing masks, arranging and picking up PPE supplies, purchasing food for residential clients from local restaurants, and regularly checking in to see if we needed anything.  As soon as volunteers were allowed to come in, they returned and have been instrumental in putting our donation distribution days together.”

Erica Pilkington, Residential Services Director, expressed admiration and gratitude for the staff who showed up every day throughout the lockdown while also navigating the unchartered pandemic territory with their own families. “This was a scary time not only for the families we serve but for the staff who came to work each day risking their own health and safety to support the survivors in our community. For obvious reasons, we could not hang a “Heroes Work Here” sign outside our residential buildings but please know as soon as you walk through the doors of the Safe House, that sign is the first thing you see because Domestic Violence Advocates saved lives too and I’m honored to work beside them every day.”

The pandemic-driven pivot from in-person to virtual was capitalized on by Maddie Hahn, Dating Abuse Prevention Manager, who innovated to meet students where they were at, literally. In addition to establishing remote training that Maddie brought to classrooms across Morris County, she also created the Teen Ambassador Program which went from 0 to 11 ambassadors in just its first six months! Two of these ambassadors were recognized at the event, Melanie and Rylee.

We are grateful for the 45 years of support from our friends — donors, volunteers and board members – and our staff, who help bring our mission to life, raising awareness and working to prevent all forms of violence.