Welcome to The Denville Moms Local Nonprofit Spotlight Series!
As the second organization in this important series, we are excited to introduce you to Roots & Wings. Roots & Wings is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Their mission is to provide young adults who age out of the New Jersey foster care system with safe housing, educational support, case management, counseling, and life skills in order to empower motivated individuals toward self-sufficiency.
What is your nonprofit called and how long have you been established?
Roots & Wings, and we’re actually celebrating 20 years this year!
What is your mission?
Roots & Wings provides young adults who age out of the New Jersey foster care system with safe housing, educational support, case management, counseling, and life skills in order to empower motivated individuals toward self-sufficiency.
Who does your organization serve?
We serve youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who have aged out of the foster care system.
What was a recent project you worked on? How did it come to fruition?
The realization of how little preventative healthcare the youth have been exposed to while in foster care. In the past year, we’ve placed an emphasis on ensuring every participant in the program has gone for a physical & dental check-up. It’s opened our eyes to the opportunity to inform our clients about preventative care, the health care system, and the role that plays in both their mental and physical health.
What was the inspiration behind the formation of your nonprofit?
We were Founded in 1999 by Irene DeGrandpre, a CASA volunteer who identified a need of services for the young adults she was working with. Once they turned 18, there was no support for them. What started as a collaborative, community-based volunteer operation has grown into a well-established organization made up of professional staff, trained mentors and dedicated volunteers.
From the beginning, Roots & Wings has been client-centered, providing nurturing support, safe housing, educational support and practical life skills to young adults who have aged out of the child welfare system. Roots & Wings provides a foundation for this high-risk population of disadvantaged young adults on which they can build – replacing dependency with self-sufficiency.
What’s on the horizon (with respect to your endeavor; future plans or goals)?
Opening more beds. There are 600-800 youth who age out of the foster care system every year in New Jersey. Every year, we try to add at least 2 more beds to our program.
What speaker topics/experts are you looking for? Who can our readers contact if they want to volunteer their expertise? Do you have specific milestones/dates you can share with us (ie. gratitude clubs)?
We are always looking for volunteers. A few big ones are tutors and financial literacy experts – a lot of our clients struggle with budgeting and saving. Once a month we have a group meeting with everyone that focuses on a life skill, they’ve ranged from how to cook a healthy meal on a budget to why credit is important and how to build it to how to develop healthy relationships. We often have volunteers who are experts on these topics come in and lead the workshop.
We have application/interest forms on our website to be a volunteer, which you can find here: https://www.rootsandwingsnj.org/get-involved/volunteer/. They can also reach out to our Operations Manager Meagan Jensen at Meagan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an example of “their own meaningful programming?” If our readers have children who want to get involved in your organization if is that possible and how?
Of course! We’ve had numerous girl scout troops, boy scout troops and school classes involved. The best way is through food drives, personal hygiene item drives, and apartment items drives. We have a pantry at our office in Denville where the young adults we work with can come and get some basic food necessities as well stock up on things like shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, laundry detergent, garbage bags, and paper towels. They’ve also volunteered in helping to organizing the food pantry, help set up apartments, and help wrap gifts during our annual holiday party.
What are additional ways in which our readers can contribute or volunteer their time?
In addition to what was mentioned already, we have volunteers help with our fundraising events, food drives, apartment set ups, and holiday party. We also have a volunteer mentoring program. Each of our clients is matched with a volunteer mentor while they are in our program – which is about two years. Being a mentor is the most intensive volunteer commitment we have, as we ask the mentor to be involved for the whole two years, and meet with their mentee in person at least 1 to 2 times a month. We provide training, and it’s a great experience, but it definitely requires the volunteer to be dedicated. All of our volunteer opportunities are listed on our website, where you will also find the application to volunteer and then the more extensive application to be a mentor. https://www.rootsandwingsnj.org/get-involved/volunteer/