EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The Family Service Association of South Jersey celebrated the grand opening of the Family Economic Opportunity Center, a new program that operates inside the Spruce Family Success Center at 3050 Spruce Ave.

The purpose of the new program is to help families find ways to achieve financial sustainability, said Joe Molineaux, program director.

“The vision is to create something that specifically focuses on the actions that will move people forward,” said Molineaux. “We are turning the ideas into thoughts into actions one person at a time.”

Individual and group services will be offered at the Economic Opportunity Center, including everything from connecting individuals to jobs to offering instruction on operating a home-based business.

“We work every day with our neighbors to help them find ways to stabilize their families economically. We know the challenges that so many of our friends and neighbors are impacted by,” said Cindy Herdman Ivins, president/CEO of Family Service Association, noting the recent casino closings. “Our families need help to find pathways where they can thrive in our communities.”

“It’s bigger than employment,” she continued. “We hope it helps people recognize the talents and skills they have inside.” Maybe they will begin selling their crafts on the Internet or a carpenter might open his own construction business.

Molineaux said the new program is the perfect complement to programs currently offered at FSA. It will help move families forward while they are still receiving services that meet their basic survival needs. “We are going to hopefully create some sustainability to their growth if we can create income streams for them along the way that are less dependent upon programs and more dependent upon their own activities,” he said.

The new program is funded through a $200,000 Neighborhood Builder Grant from Bank of America.

“We all understand the economic challenges in this region. When Family Service Association submitted the application, it was very compelling, and we knew it was the right thing to do,” said Etta Rudolf Denk, senior vice president and NJ market manager of Bank of America. “There are a lot of challenges, things that we are all going to get through, but we are going to get through them with the support of each other.”

The grand opening was attended by Family Service Association employees and board members, local officials and Bank of America representatives.

“We are happy that you are in our township doing the work you are doing. We know the challenges that are going on in our community right now and hopefully they will get better with organizations like (this),” said Egg Harbor Township Deputy Mayor Paul Hodson.

Services are provided at the Family Service Association at no cost. For more information, call the Spruce Family Success Center at (609) 569-0376 or the New Day Success Center in Galloway at (609) 652-0230.

Upcoming free group sessions at the Family Economic Opportunity Center include:

•Getting Back to Work: Strategies and new job seeking techniques are offered for use in a changing job market, 2 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Nov. 16;

•First Job, Next Job: Designed for ages 15-18 and offers strategies for finding the right job, 4 p.m. Thursday;

•Home Based Business Basics: From painting to social media, home based business opportunities are available; learn the basics and how families support themselves through home based businesses, 10 a.m. Thursday.

Workshops are held at the Spruce Family Success Center. Call 609-569-0376 to register.

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