All posts by Jared Kofsky

Jared Kofsky is a Junior studying Communications and Public Policy at The College of New Jersey. As the Managing Editor, he is involved with a variety of aspects of the publication, including generating story ideas, writing investigative pieces, editing The Streetlight‘s website, updating the Mercer County Resource Guide, and coordinating the distribution of the print copy to over 60 sites throughout Mercer and Bucks Counties. Jared hopes to spotlight the powerful work of the organizations and individuals working to combat homelessness in the Capital Region and to make The Streetlight accessible to as many Trentonians as possible.

Men’s Mission House Opens in Ewing Township

By Jessica Middleton

Pastor Erik Lydick, sitting near the entrance to the Trenton Transit Center, immediately stands outin his black hoodie with the words “God’s Got This.” Lydick works at Restoring Hearts Ministries and is a very active part of the Trenton and Ewing communities.

He explained that at the Ministries, “the guys are sitting down, they are being taught the Bible,and everybody gets a breakfast sandwich”. Lydick and his fellow workers are able to talk to roughly 100-125 patrons each week in these Bible study groups. They also spend some time providing food for unsheltered individuals xperiencing homelessness roughly five times a week wherever the need is.

Lydick has a series of goals for his program aimed at making sure that those experiencing homelessness are receiving the care, guidance, and resources that they may not find through state-run organizations and initiatives.

First and foremost, his main goal is to make sure that these individuals know that someone cares about them.

“You guys have probably had some kind of interaction with homeless folks, people struggling in homelessness, so you understand that for the most part they really feel like they’re not valued. That nobody really loves them. That’s kind of one of our main goals. Our motto really is: work hard to establish trust, so that we can establish a relationship,” Lydick emphasized.

One of the newest projects that Restoring Hearts has taken on is a housing project on Ewing’s Iowana Avenue, which aims to offer safe housing to those who need it. Its functions surpass those of a typical recovery house.

More specifically, Lydick wants it to feel like home. While there is no limit to how long residents can live in the house, they must follow program guidelines during their stay. And while the house can technically house 14 individuals, it is being limited to only five.

This is in an effort to bring about that feeling of having a home, as opposed to simply some place to rest your head. Lydick proudly proclaimed the effect that this has had on those who have stayed in the house:

“In three short weeks, you start to see a change. They go from folded into themselves to initiating conversations with each other and joking around. Their personalities start to resurface.”

Lydick discussed his long term goals for Restoring Hearts over the next decade. He hopes to continue being able to maintain this feeling of family among his residents even as they create their own families and move into their own houses. He also hopes that more people come to recognize the group’s efforts and join them. He also wants create a location for Restoring Hearts within Tren- ton’s city limits, making it easier for those he serves to go here as opposed to needing transportation for the home in Ewing.


Inside the Men’s Mission House. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Streetlight.
Signs inside the Men’s Mission House. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Streetlight.
Exterior of the Men’s Mission House. Photo by Jared Kofsky/The Streetlight.

Resource Awaits Across the River

By Paul Mulholland

Many Trenton residents receive food assistance across the Calhoun Street Bridge in Morrisville, P.A. One such food program is run by the Morrisville Presbyterian Church (MPC) at 771 North Pennsylvania Avenue.

The program is open from 9:00am to 12:00pm every Wednesday, and from 7:00pm to 8:00pm on the first Tuesday of the month for working families. Clients may only come once every calendar month.

The center serves well over one hundred families every week on a first come first serve basis. Potential clients are interviewed and are expected to have photo identification, proof of residency, proof that their children live with them, and income verification. Mercer County IDs, passports and bills are accepted as proof of address for adults, while school records can be used for children. Residency documents are not necessary for individuals experiencing homelessness.

MPC is able to give donated bags of fruits, vegetables, pasta, and high quality proteins to its clients. They are often stocked with chicken, beef, tuna, peanut butter and other protein items as well. The center will give one, two or three bags of protein depending on the size of the family.

Clients should have a plan to transport these bags to their home. A parking lot is available to clients with a car. The center also has volunteers that help carry food out as most receive far too much to transport alone.

Morrisville Presbyterian also carries basic household and hygiene items such as toothpaste, pet food, and garbage bags that are available upon request.

Capital City Farm: Breaking Ground for Trenton

By Josh Tobia & Andrew Nebbia

Capital City Farm in Trenton. Photos by Jared Kofsky/The Streetlight.

There are three supermarkets serving approximately 84,000 Trenton residents, making it difficult to access nutritious, low cost food within city limits.

On the other hand, Trenton has more than 75 bodegas that sell primarily unhealthy meals and a limited supply of fresh produce at a high cost.

This makes it increasingly difficult for city residents to maintain a well-balanced diet.

A study conducted by Rutgers University in 2010 determined that nearly half of children ages 3-18 growing up in Trenton are either overweight or obese, nearly twice the childhood obesity rate in the nation.

Rutgers attributed these statistics to the consumption of too few vegetables and too many high-energy foods.

Capital City Farm, a project of the D&R Greenway Land Trust at 301 North Clinton Avenue in Coalport, works to address this increasingly problematic reality in ways that are sustainable.

Both a profitable business and a model for urban agriculture, the farm is a beneficial addition to the community. Urban farms, like Capital City Farm, grow fresh produce and supply it to local corner stores.

After years of being a food desert, Detroit has used urban agriculture to address rather similar concerns.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative transformed unused land into gardens for fresh produce, which expanded businesses, provided jobs, and helped circulate healthy foods across
the city.

Capital City Farm is following a similar trajectory. Kate Mittnach envisioned a farm that would create “a place of beauty that grows food for people that need it.”

It has done exactly that. John S. Watson Jr., Vice President of the D&R Greenway Land Trust, sees the farm as a “green oasis where fresh produce and flowers are grown.”

Watson explained that approximately 30 percent of the greens that they produce are donated to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK).

According to Watson, the other 70 percent of the food grown on the farm is sold to the Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market and Capital City Farmers Market in Mill Hill Park, and they are actively working to find more places to sell their product.

The farm’s website advertises that plots of land on the property will be available for local citizens to rent out and use for personal gardens

Their mission, however, is to serve and thus, the farm has set up canvases in neighborhoods around the city to learn what residents want grown and supplied.

In addition to serving the local community, Watson explained that one of their goals is to “create a sustainable and replicable agricultural model that can be created in other cities around the state and the nation.”


Capital City Farm
301 North Clinton Avenue, Trenton, NJ
(609) 924-4646

Trenton Free Public Library: Bridging the Digital Divide

By Noah Hasko

The Trenton Free Public Library. Photos by Jared Kofsky/The Streetlight.

The digital divide continues to adversely impact neighborhoods throughout the city of Trenton. A number of organizations are working to address this growing problem and the Trenton Free Public Library (TFPL) is at the forefront of the movement.

The library provides respite to individuals experiencing homelessness in the daytime and access to amenities that they need. Richard Jutkiewicz, the Community Outreach Librarian at the library attested to their ongoing efforts to support city residents.

Jutkiewicz has seen the impacts of the digital divide on individuals pursuing employment opportunities. Many find it difficult to access online applications and other resources for jobs while others enter the field with little understanding of and expertise with technology, making it difficult for them to maintain and grow in their positions.

Jutkiewicz explained this reality as he has seen it: “It has been eyeopening for me to see there are families where the head of household is out of work, and are applying for a job to a company or an organization that only accepts a digital application. They don’t have an email account, or had one but are not sure how to access it.”

With the ongoing efforts of those at local organizations in partnership with public resources such as those at The TFPL, efforts to address the digital divide are far-reaching.

Although the Briggs, Cadwalader, East Trenton, and Skelton Branch Libraries have been closed since 2010, the main branch of the TFPL is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00A.M to 8:00 P.M and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M. The TFPL is free for all to use with the acquisition of a library card and is located at 120 Academy Street. To contact the library, go online at www.trentonlib.org or call (609) 392-7188.


Managing Editor’s Note: The library is often closed during days with extremely high temperatures. Check with the library’s social media platforms if possible before visiting.

Local Summer Camp Offers Education and Entertainment

By Jasmine Green & Némy Thomas

Many parents rely heavily on school hours and after-school activities as a time when their children have somewhere to be safe and cared for. The problem is that most schools run for only nine months a year, leaving many children with working parents with nowhere to go for over eight hours during the remaining three months.

This leaves parents struggling to work and to find adequate and appropriate care for their children. This is where programs such as UrbanPromise Trenton come into play. In addition to running an afterschool program, the organization hosts a summer camp.

The UrbanPromise Summer Camp offers a welcoming and nurturing environment for over 150 children from all over Trenton at several locations. In the West Trenton location, the program takes place for six weeks and the location in East Trenton is offered for eight weeks beginning the week after the fourth of July. Michael Lovaglio, Academic Director of UrbanPromise Trenton, explained that UrbanPromise requires applications for many of its programs and with the limited funding that the organization has, they struggle to accommodate all applicants but try their best to support the greatest number possible. There is also a wait list available to those who do not make it.

UrbanPromise offers fun in the sun but unlike many other camps, it combines these activities with educational enrichment. According to Lovaglio, the camp builds on students’ academic skill sets and knowledge and preserves learning so that students do not experience the dreaded “summer learning loss.”

UrbanPromise not only provides a space for younger children to grow, but they also offer employment opportunities for teenagers in which they can acquire valuable leadership and collaboration skills. Teens can serve as “Street Leaders” in the program and receive a small stipend. UrbanPromise also provides $1,000 to each particpant when they go off to college. The program has a 100 percent high school graduation rate and it teams up with local organization, Mercer Street Friends, to provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches.

Scott: Food Meets Family

By Essence Scott

Food is a popular topic of conversation in my family.

We all enjoy talking about a good meal just as much as we enjoy eating one. Growing up, I remember my mother always cooking meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and my personal favorite pepper steak (our name for onion steak because it has no peppers in it).

My sister used to love (and still does) everything that my mother made. I also remember most of these foods being made in the microwave.

On the second day of every month, my mother would buy what she could from the long list of foods that we had been craving: Purdue chicken and hot wings galore.

Of course, we were not so fortunate to have many of these foods when we were living in motels. When we were living here, there was no stove to make pepper steak or meatloaf in. And before we moved from the Trails End Motel, we had been eating canned goods for approximately two years.

When the school nurse gave my family gift certificates every so often, we would walk to the diner and eat pancakes at four in the afternoon. The walk to the diner felt short. There were no sidewalks, only grassy areas.

I remember all of us staying in the grass, talking as we walked. When we got into the diner, it felt homey: safe, warm, inviting, and friendly. There were games that we could play, but they always cost money.

We ordered pancakes with butter and syrup. We ordered hot chocolate. My siblings and I were just kids but my mother would let us get what we wanted.

When we were not at the diner, we’d talk about the foods our mom would cook for us when we moved. Meatloaf slathered in ketchup, meatballs bathed in gravy. Pork chops.

We talked about ice cream — any food we did not have, we spoke about excitedly. Talking about food became my family’s way of discussing a better quality of life.

It is difficult to leave a lifestyle behind, especially if you are still entrenched in the happy moments from that time — despite
their brevity.

Nowadays, my mother always wants to know if I am “eating well.” For her, “eating well” is a hearty, home-cooked meal, or even a small meal from a restaurant — something that my family does not always get an opportunity to do.

But she is happy to see me eating well — unhealthily, sometimes so, but, for her, still better. And I am happy too.