Focusing on Social Services in our Community
A total of five Lakewood organizations were recipients of grants awarded by the WellCare Health Plans of New Jersey, Inc. Community Connections program. The grants were bequeathed to entities who play prominent roles in the social services network that supports overall community health and wellness.
Two of the awardees are famously known to Lakewood residents by their acronyms: LRRC and LCSC. Ironically, this sometimes leads to confusion between the two entities. However, although both share the altruistic goal of making crucial services available to Ocean County residents, the two organizations are actually quite distinct.
Inside the LRRC
The Lakewood Resource and Referral Center was created to connect Ocean County residents in need with social service benefits and programs to enhance their quality of life. For many individuals, navigating the world of forms, paperwork, eligibility criteria, and documentation can be overwhelming. Language barriers can certainly add to the frustration. The knowledgeable and experienced staff at The LRRC help clients navigate federal, state, and non-profit assistance, including SNAP, WIC, food banks, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, rental assistance, utility assistance, and subsidized first-time homebuyer programs. In one month, the LRRC answers 1,500 phone calls, conducts 270 counseling sessions, assists 700 walk-ins, teaches 4 home buyer classes, and facilitates $12,000 of utility funding. Additionally, they provide community education on a wide range of topics through outreach events, seminars, and informational articles.
LRRC’s ultimate mission is to bring financial stability and self-sufficiency to struggling individuals and families by providing intervention, counseling, information, and advocacy to those who encounter difficulties accessing safety-net resources they are eligible for.
“It goes way beyond the narrow focus of addressing the client’s immediate need,” explains Mrs. Sarah Sternbach, who serves as LRRC’s Executive Director. “Our Case Managers connect the dots and address the bigger picture: they take a holistic look at each client’s overall financial, social, and health situation.”
A Look at the LCSC
Like the LRRC, the Lakewood Community Services Corporation also focuses on servicing individuals and families within our community. According to Mrs. Sarah Gelbwachs, LCSC’s very capable Executive Director, LCSC’s mission is “to serve as a Family Success Center, supporting healthy families by providing a broad range of services to help them address and overcome challenges.”
LCSC’s diverse and extensive menu of services includes: a professional and highly successful outpatient mental health clinic; seventeen focused and structured support groups; parenting classes and parent-child activities; support services for seniors including home delivered meals, caregiver support, and recreation/social programs; small business services such as networking events, business mentoring and assistance obtaining micro-loans.
LCSC’s team of over fifty licensed mental health professionals provides individual, group and family counseling utilizing their advanced training in CBT, DBT, EMDR and Internal Family Systems to address a broad array of challenges to thousands in our community.
WellCare: Finger on the Pulse of Community Needs
Although WellCare Health Plans of NJ is a healthcare insurance carrier for individuals and families with NJ Family Care coverage, they have an uncanny knack for connecting with organizations and individuals that play key roles in ensuring and supporting overall community health and wellness.
“Supporting structures that are doing a great job servicing the community is a win-win situation,” says Aviva Woog, WellCare’s Community Connections Manager. “Our overarching goal is to promote a healthier community and healthier families, whether they are WellCare clients or not.”
It says much about the personal commitment and insightful vision of the folks at WellCare.