The Mental Health Association of Morris County (MHAMC) recognized eight local churches at their 11th Annual Food for Thought Benefit on Monday night at the Birchwood Manor in Morris Plains. The churches were honored for their outstanding contributions and support of MHAMC’s mission in the community by providing funds, facilities and a variety of services.
“Our organization is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and what better way to celebrate than to recognize these churches and their congregations for their unwavering support that has helped make this milestone possible,” said Lou Schwarcz, President and Chief Executive Officer at MHAMC. “It is tonight with (these attendees’) presence that we advance our cause. They have an opportunity through their contributions, their volunteerism, the good word they carry forward to ensure that our programs continue to serve the Morris County community in a time of compromised resources and … a challenging time for all of us in all aspects of our lives.”
The eight churches include:
- St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown
- Church of the Redeemer in Morristown
- The Presbyterian Church of Morris Plains
- St. Virgil Roman Catholic in Morris Plains
- Trinity Lutheran Church in Dover
- Zion Lutheran Church in Oldwick
- St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Mountain Lakes
- Community Church of Mountain Lakes
Church of the Redeemer, Morristown, hosts the Community Soup Kitchen where MHAMC has two outreach workers daily. Rev. Lynn Czarniecki accepted the certificate on behalf of the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown.
“We’re very grateful for the recognition,” said Czarniecki. “The soup kitchen is an integral part to the church’s outreach into the community. We’re privileged to partner with the Mental Health Association. They have case managers who come and work with our clients … to help them achieve recovery.”
St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown provides space for “Project Homeless Connect,” a day filled with resources for Morris County residents who are homeless.
The Presbyterian Church of Morris Plains and the Community Church of Mountain Lakes both host dinners for MHAMC clients. Ginny Jerr, administration assistant at Presbyterian Church of Morris Plains, said of their two annual dinners, one happens to be Wednesday night. The other is around the holiday season in December.
“We host two dinners for the Morris area who are adults with physical and mental challenges,” said Jerr. “The entire church participates. They bring food and gifts for those adults to bring home.”
St. Virgil Roman Catholic parish in Morris Plains provides much needed gift cards from area grocery stores, discount department stores and other retailers to provide clothing and food necessities for the homeless and mentally ill.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Mountain Lakes is the founding funder of the MHAMC Educational Assistance Fund and provides a host of other supports and services.
Both Trinity Lutheran Church and Zion Lutheran Church support “Edna’s Haven” in different ways. Zion Lutheran provides a grant to fund the work, while Trinity Lutheran in Dover houses the facility. Edna’s Haven, a homeless drop-in center, provides people who are homeless with connections to health, housing, mental health, job search and tutoring resources. In April 2012 the Morris County Chamber of Commerce awarded Edna's Haven with the Morris County Non-Profit Excellence Award for Innovative Program/Service.
“An event like ours doesn’t come together without the help of many volunteers and through the generous donations and help from organizations, like our vendors … and our Food for Thought committee,” said Board Chair Jeffrey Green.
The Food for Thought event has grown to be one of Morris County’s premier fundraising events with many of the area’s finest restaurants donate a “taste” of their cuisine. Restaurant vendors include
- Apple Spice Junction
- Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub
- La Cucina
- Tiffany’s Restaurant
- Patsy’s Trattoria
- Coney Island Catering
- Thirsty Turtle
- Marco Polo, among many others.
Wine and beer tasting was provided by Best Cellars of A&P at Ledgewood, Randolph.
Founded in 1953, the MHAMC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing support and case management services along with education and self-help resources for those with mental illness and their families