Mercy Center in Asbury Park, NJ is changing lives in this Monmouth County, NJ community and beyond
At any point in our lives, we can use some help and guidance on our journey through life.
One organization based in Asbury Park, Mercy Center, is doing just that and more through education, food bank services, social needs and various other programs serving those in Monmouth County and even beyond.
"We actually have a pantry to serve people right now, very much like what you have in Ocean County in the B.E.A.T. Center. We served 300 people last year, in October, we served 4,655 in October this year," Mercy Center Executive Director Kim Guadagno tells 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk on Sunday morning. "We ask no questions -- you're hungry, you come on in -- we're open five days a week, we're only 1 of 2 pantries in all of Monmouth County that are open five days a week and we serve anybody whose hungry and we don't ask where they're coming from, so, if you're coming up from Ocean County, you can stop in on Main Street in Asbury Park and come in between 8:30 and 4:00 and we'll serve you really great food quite honestly, it's a choice-pantry, you go in and pick what you want."
Part of that menu includes some eggplant parmesan on occasion.
In addition to food services, Mercy Center is there for other needs that people have in the community as well.
"The second part is to give people services: what do they need? -- they need stabilized family unit, they need co-parenting, they need anger management -- we're at the jail (Monmouth County Correctional Institute) providing classes to men so that they can come back into the community and take their kids back or at least, have access to them," Guadagno said. "We have a huge domestic violence and sexual assault program, we work hand-in-hand with 180 Turning Lives Around and make sure that families that have been victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault get all the services they need from hotel rooms to classes to changing the locks on their doors. Thanks to a large state grant, quite frankly, we have many advocates who have been reaching out to the community."
Another community service that the Mercy Center provides is helping children and families in low-income situations and it starts in the classrooms.
"80-percent of the kids in Asbury Park are poor, they live below the poverty line, and how do you get out of that? -- 'I'm poor, so my parents are poor, my grandparents are poor' -- how do you get that cycle and break it? You get kids a really good education," Guadagno said. "We run a school for girls, it's not a charter school, it's not a public school, it's not a Catholic school, it's an independent school where girls come tuition free and get a real good quality education -- that cuts off the generational piece of poverty."
Mercy Center needs your help as well so that they can continue to help others in the community.
"We need more volunteers because the volume is so high," Guadagno said. "We need help at the school serving the kids food every day, we need help at the pantry just moving food in and out, the licensed social workers -- not so much because these are therapeutic programs that have to be documented and certified by other clinical social workers, so, that's a little different -- but, at Christmastime, all of our families in our resource center get gifts."
You can listen to the full conversation that we had with Kim Guadagno of Mercy Center in Asbury Park on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' and how you can help them help others, right here.
Conversation Part One:
Conversation Part Two: