February 10, 2021

HomeFront’s Valentine’s Week of Hope Features Forums, Art, Film, Volunteering

SHOWING THEIR LOVE: Children in Homefront Family Campus’ Atkinson Child Development Center daycare program are preparing for Valentine’s Day. During the upcoming Week of Hope, HomeFront will be sponsoring a series of events to spotlight homelessness and hunger in the local community and to encourage volunteers to get involved. (Photo courtesy of HomeFront)

By Donald Gilpin

A week of events, designed by HomeFront to “make a difference in our community,” will start off on Valentine’s Day, Sunday February 14, with a “Share the Love” virtual art event from noon to 1:30 p.m. 

Participants will decorate hearts and adorn them with poetry and inspirational quotes, to be displayed at the HomeFront Family Campus in Ewing, where temporary shelter and tools for self-sufficiency are provided for up to 38 families experiencing homelessness.

Ongoing highlights as the Week of Hope continues will include virtual learning forums about local homelessness and hunger solutions, and how to get involved; a panel of experts on “Hunger and Homelessness in the Time of COVID-19”; numerous volunteer opportunities; and the premiere of Homeless, a short movie produced by Force for Good.

“Every year our Week of Hope introduces us to so many new people in the community interested in learning and helping locally, and it’s been great for reconnecting with old friends too,” said HomeFront Director of Community Engagement Meghan Cubano. “With the pandemic, most of us are starting to feel weary, but also a sense that we will be turning a corner soon. So a Week of Hope right now feels just so appropriate — a week of conversations about the local situation and ways to get involved, in a variety of formats.”

On Thursday, February 18 at 6 p.m., the panel of experts discussing homelessness and hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic will feature Mercer Street Friends CEO Bernie Flynn, Emily Lemmerman of the Princeton University Eviction Lab, Trenton School District Parent Liaison and former HomeFront client Crystol Thompson-Dyous, HomeFront Chief of Operations Sarah Steward, and Statewide New Jersey Community Schools Coalition Coordinator Gregory Stankiewicz. HomeFront Founder and CEO Connie Mercer will moderate the session.

A variety of virtual learning forums during the week will include a “Welcome to HomeFront” orientation at noon on February 15, describing the agency’s comprehensive services model with over 30 programs to help families in need; virtual tours of HomeFront at 1 p.m. on February 15 and at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 19; and a Zoom lunch and learn with HomeFront’s Mercer and Steward on Wednesday, February 17 from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Volunteering options will be the subject of Virtual Packing events on February 16 from 10 to 11 a.m and from 2 to 3 p.m., where community members can tune in, pack up, and then deliver snack and delivery bags to HomeFront Headquarters. 

On-site volunteering will be held at HomeFront’s Diaper Resource Center on Saturday, February 20 from 10 a.m. to  noon, and the Week of Hope website will also feature ways to volunteer throughout the year.

The Homeless film, featuring the founder of the Tiny House Project and followed by a panel discussion, will wrap up the week. The movie producer Force for Good is a film and music organization to benefit local nonprofits, started by Bucks County resident Jonathan Sprout, a Grammy-nominated composer and performer.

For more information on the HomeFront Week of Hope, go to homefrontnj.org.