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Hispanic Family Center and MCOHA’s “Latinos and Culture of Health Listening Session” Report

Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey, Inc. and the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs convened a “listening session” of more than 30 experts in various health-care related fields on April 22, 2016. The gathering was sponsored by New Jersey Health Initiatives, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, where the meeting was held, and focused on how to build a “Culture of Health” with Latinos.   The community health leaders developed a series of initial recommendations to insure a more inclusive process in the development, promotion and advocacy of public health policies for Latinos in New Jersey. Click here to see the full report: Listening Session Report

Hispanic Family Center Marks 40th Anniversary Year And Anounces New Officers And Members On The Board Of Directors

40 Years of ExcellenceFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                 

Camden, NJ (February 9, 2016) – Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey, Inc. (HFC), a leading non-profit organization, announces today that 2016 marks the organization’s 40th Anniversary. Since its founding in 1976, HFC has been committed to fulfilling its mission and improving the lives of those in our community.

New officers were elected during the Board re-organization and are as follows:

Felix Torres-Colon of Willingboro, New Jersey was elected to serve as the Board President. He previously served as Vice President of the Board. Torres-Colon is the Director of Program Development for St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society where he oversees programming which seeks to improve the quality of life of East Camden residents by promoting affordable home ownership.

Courtney Kronenthal, Ph.D. of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania was elected to serve as the Vice President and is the Chair of the organization’s Fundraising & Marketing Committee. She previously served as Secretary of the Board and has been on the Board since 2014. Kronenthal most recently served as the Director of Communications and Development at Coriell Institute, a nonprofit research center dedicated to personalized medicine, cell biology, cytogenetics, genotyping, and biobanking.

Elsa Perez, MBA of Collingswood, New Jersey was elected to serve as the Treasurer. Perez joined HFC’s Board of Directors in 2015. She served as the Managing Director at BNY Mellon, an investment management services company until 2013, when she retired. Her background includes nearly 30 years of experience in financial services.

Yolanda Babilonia, M.Ed., of Pennsauken, New Jersey was elected as Board Secretary. She has been serving on the Board since 2014. Babilonia is a Vice Principal for the Camden City School District where she provides evaluation and modification of instructional programs and fosters effective relationships among staff, community, parents and students.

New members elected to the Board of Directors include Alex Fajardo, Esq. of Wilmington, Delaware and Evelyn Velazquez of Willingboro, New Jersey.

Alex FajardoAlex Farjardo is a Law Clerk at Doroshow Pasquale Krawitz & Bhaya in Wilmington, Delaware where he is responsible for conducting legal research; drafting pleadings, motions and briefs; conducting client interviews; managing personal injury cases; and coordinating marketing and community outreach events. Fajardo earned separate Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Florida International University, an Associate’s degree in Biology from Miami-Dade College and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Widener University Delaware Law School. He is admitted to practice law in New Jersey. Fajardo currently serves on the Board of Directors of Las America ASPIRA Academy Charter School, a dual language immersion K-8 charter school in Newark, Delaware. He continues to “give back” by providing weekly pro-bono legal consultations and teaches English as a Second Language classes at a local community center.

Evelyn Velazquez is an Account Installation Leader for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New JerEvelyn Velazquezsey. In this role, she serves as a liaison between the provider community and healthcare by supporting sales in efforts to expand its business through open enrollment, manages accounts, and implements new groups and conversions. She has nearly 25 years of experience in the healthcare arena with extensive knowledge in customer/provider service, billing, health benefits, and sales. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, which is critical in reaching a growing Hispanic population. Velazquez resides in Willingboro, New Jersey with her husband.

“We are honored to have Mr. Fajardo and Ms. Velazquez join HFC’s Board of Directors,” Executive Director Elsa Candelario said. “Mr. Fajardo’s commitment to improving the lives of the Hispanic community will be an asset to our organization and our community.” Likewise, “Ms. Velazquez’s connection to the healthcare industry is equally important. The Latino community faces serious health disparities that are impacted by the numerous social determinants to health.”

Board President, Felix Torres-Colon noted, “I welcome Alex and Evelyn as members of the Board of Directors. The Board plays a crucial role in helping HFC serve the community and to achieve its Strategic Priorities & Directions. We are proud of the impact HFC has made in the lives of the community over the past 40 years and we look forward to continuing to fulfill HFC’s mission.”

Full bios on the Board of Directors can be accessed at HFC’s website at:

Information and contact information on all of the services HFC offers can be found on the organization’s website:



The Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey is a multi-service organization with locations in Camden and Gloucester Counties. Dedicated to providing the community with a broad range of culturally relevant social services and advocacy programs that promote and encourage empowerment and self-sufficiency, HFC offers more than 20 diverse programs including: workforce development services; ESL/Civics; health education and prevention services; family strengthening initiatives; mental health and substance use disorder treatment; and energy assistance. Each year Hispanic Family Center serves nearly 10,000 individuals and families.

Amber Oakley, Award Finalist for Emerging Nonprofit Leader Award

On December 2, 2015 New Jersey Non-Profit Conference: Power, Purpose, Performance: Non-Profits Growing a Thriving Garden State on December 2, in Somerset, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Center for Excellence: Leadership, Governance, Philanthropy in partnership with the Center for Non-Profits, Amber Oakley, HFC’s Director of Development and Marketing was recognized as a finalist for Emerging Nonprofit Leader Award.

The award was created to promote excellence in the field by recognizing and calling attention to the promise and impact of talented non-profit leaders in New Jersey. Awardees were selected through an application process judged by an impartial volunteer panel of leaders of non-profits, business, government and organized philanthropy.

Amber Oakley was recognized as a finalist for her “leadership abilities, work ethic and curiosity as a learner,” according to the Hispanic Family Center of Southern NJ’s Executive Director Elsa Candelario. “Amber’s a key ‘go-to’ person in our organization. Her interest in the population we serve is clear in her ability to articulate new initiatives and to clearly speak to the need. She understands the difference that our programs make.”

Congratulations Amber!

HFC Interviewed by the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies for November Edition of NJAMHAA News

In November, HFC’s Executive Director Elsa Candelario was interviewed and featured in the November Edition of NJAMHAA News (NN) on the diverse services the agency provides, the goals she and her staff aim to achieve and the challenges to be overcome. The interview article is featured below.

NN: What is the history of your program? What makes your program  so unique?

EC: Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey (HFC) was founded in 1976 as a small advocacy organization in North Camden and has since become a comprehensive bilingual, multicultural human services organization – serving more than 10,000 residents from across southern New Jersey, roughly 30% of whom are non-Latino. From its onset, HFC has had a focus on wellness and recovery, offering mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. While the organization continues to provide these programs – they are just one piece of HFC’s offerings. Like many other Hispanic human services organizations across the state, HFC offers a variety of services to the populations served, many of whom have English language barriers that include: workforce development and job training, English as a Second Language/Civics instruction, prevention services (including asthma, HIV, and substance abuse), seniors supportive services and family strengthening initiatives. From crisis to opportunity – our staff are committed to making a positive impact through their work. In fact, HFC will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary over the coming year. This milestone is quite an achievement given the recent recession’s profound impact on the nonprofit community.

 Today our behavioral health services include: outpatient mental health, partial care mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. What is unique about HFC is that we are an organization with a deep commitment to the more than 20% of New Jerseyans who speak a language other than English at home. To that end, we were established to offer bilingual and bicultural human services which allows participants to communicate in their language of choice.   Research shows that Hispanics are widely impacted by mental health and substance abuse disorders. Linguistic competence is more than an issue of business strategy or social justice. The literature shows that there is a clear connection between communication and adherence and outcomes (Ong et al. 1995; Stewart 1995; Stewart et al. 2000). It is, therefore, important that there are nonprofit organizations like HFC that are committed by mission and vision to meet the needs of the growing limited English proficient population that continues to be under-served. Many of our funders and supporters share this commitment and are engaged with HFC in tackling the issue of the existing service gaps.

 NN: What are the most utilized services you provide?

EC: HFC is a multi-service provider … our outpatient mental health, partial care mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs are very popular – due to the ability to provide services in a participant’s dominant language. For example, while we operate a small Partial Care Mental Health program – HFC is serving a portion of the community who are primarily Spanish speaking. HFC’s role as a behavioral health service provider for Spanish speaking persons is critical as there continues to be a shortage of capacity in New Jersey to meet this need.

 Other incredibly popular programs include: English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction and job placement services. 

English as a Second Language (ESL)/Civics Instruction: HFC is a partner under the Camden County Adult Basic Skills Education Consortium. HFC offers free ESL classes and Civics instruction to adults. The goal is to help students increase a level in their English language skills as measured by a standardized test which results in improved opportunities for employment and civic participation in their new home country. Scores of individuals have become naturalized American citizens with the assistance of this service.

 Workforce Development – Job Placement Services: Job placement is a popular service of the organization as it reflects a current and sustained need within the target geographic areas. The primary goal of the program is to help individuals gain employment, stay employed, and continue to gain experience so that they can achieve enhanced career opportunities. HFC delivers job placement assistance across multiple counties, which is supported by a number of public and private partnerships.

NN: Is there anything new or innovative that you have incorporated into your program recently? If so, how has it helped/affected procedures/outcomes?

 EC: While not behavioral health related – HFC is a part of a unique cross river collaborative with AccessMatters and Congreso de Latinos Unidos that has received funding as a Comprehensive High-Impact HIV Prevention Project. This strategic partnership funded by the CDC, is the first of its kind to span geographic regions and joins Philadelphia and Camden together in providing critical prevention, testing and linkage to medical care that are critical to deterring transmission of the HIV virus. This five-year initiative will reach African American men and Latino men, including men who have sex with men (MSM), high risk heterosexual men, and their sex partners.

 NN: What are highlights of your Center, such as recent achievements, awards, or recognition over the past year?

EC: We have expanded our HIV/AIDS services (described above) and we received funding for our Green Jobs Training Program. Students participate in intensive two week (80 hour) training on domestic hot water heater & solar thermal installation and air sealing & insulation. This career focused program provides students hands on experience and knowledge necessary to become employed in an energy efficiency related field. The training helps students in their ability to obtain sustainable, livable wages. Throughout the process, HFC’s Employment Specialist works with participants to offer customized job placement services within the industry. This free training is open to Camden residents and additional cycles will be scheduled throughout the year.

Over the past year, HFC was recognized by the Wells Fargo Community Connections Program and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey Foundation, and our Asthma Prevention Program was featured by the Community Foundation of South Jersey as Proven & Promising.

NN: What do you do and what is the program’s greatest challenge? How have you overcome it?

EC: One of the most significant challenges is sufficient resources to meet the needs of a growing Hispanic community, while ensuring bilingual capacity. New Jersey is known as the Garden State. It is one of the most diverse states in country, with Hispanics accounting for nearly 19% of the State’s total population (the largest minority group). And yet, despite considerable population growth, Latinos remain underserved and often isolated from society as a result of distinct barriers they face. Every year, more than 90% of our consumers are satisfied with our services and our programs demonstrate impact; however, there is a scarcity of bilingual credentialed Master’s level clinicians and psychiatrists which impacts the availability of services for those in need.

 There have been significant changes in the field of behavioral health over recent years. In fact, recent changes may restrict, rather than grow access for culturally specific CBO’s that exist. Therefore, any programs designed to assist the growing Hispanic community, must be able to provide services in a linguistically competent manner. Hispanic social services agencies that are trusted by those in the community are vitally important to the service provision to Latinos.

 NN: What is your plan for the future? Are there specific goals in place?

EC: At HFC, we are adapting to the new environment within which we all must operate (ie: FFS Networks, IME, ACO etc.) As we do, we strive to ensure the community based capacity within the organization is strong. Currently, we are in the midst of a strategic planning process that seeks to align the administrative and governance strategies to ensure that HFC continues to offer effective programs that meet the changing and emerging needs of the community.  HFC has a highly qualified staff, dedicated funders and supporters and an engaged board that are committed to quality service provision and organizational sustainability.

Woodbury Family Success Center Places 1st at Woodbury Fall Festival

The Woodbury Family Success Center (WFSC) took 1st place in Community Organization at the Woodbury Fall Festival! This year’s theme was “Children are our Future”. The award ceremony took place October 27, 2015 at Woodbury’s City Hall.

Check out the article about the parade:

Congratulations to all the families who participated to make this happen!

Woodbury Fall Festival - 1st place win


Executive Director Elsa Candelario: featured panelist at the 5th Annual Hispanic Leadership Summit

On October 24, 2015 Executive Director Elsa Candelario was featured as a panelist at the 5th Annual Hispanic Leadership Summit held at Rowan University. The Summit is held annually to provide key information considered important in the everyday lives of Hispanics, to empower everyone to be leaders in their communities.

The panel was the 21st Century Women: Changing Lives. The panel featured HFC’s Executive Director with Wanda Mora the Owner of Mora Salon and Dawn Diaz, CEO of Rescue Coaching and founder of Milagros Day Worldwide. The workshop was designed to awaken, ignite, and educate women; to provide women with tools to help them reach their full potential. It was a day full of inspiration!

HFC Featured in Courier Post: Targeting HIV rates in South Jersey

, @CP_KimMulford 12 p.m. EDT September 14, 2015

“CAMDEN Eddie Street learned he was HIV positive on a summer day in 1995. He was in a hospital suffering with a fever and flu-like symptoms. He thought he was dying.

Twenty years later, the 50-year-old Camden resident has undetectable levels of the virus in his blood, thanks to daily medication and careful follow-up with his doctors. But it took a lot to get him into care.

“I didn’t want to get tested,” Street said. “I didn’t want to know. To tell the truth, I was out there doing drugs, drinking, hanging out there.”

To tackle such testing reluctance, the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey is launching a five-year HIV prevention project targeting high-risk black and Latino men and their sex partners in Camden. The goal is to get people tested and, if they are positive, into treatment.”

To read the full article by Kim Mulford of the Courier Post click HERE.

Woodbury & Glassboro FSCs hosts Community Job Fair

On Wednesday, August 26 the Woodbury & Glassboro Family Success Centers hosted a Community Job Fair at the Courtyard by Marriott in Glassboro, NJ. The event was incredibly successful with over 600 job seekers participating!!

We want to extend a special thank you to our other partners including: United Way of Gloucester County, Gloucester County Workforce Investment Board, The Courtyard by Marriott and The Department of Labor.
































HFC’s Empowerment Center Highlighted by The Daily Journal

HFC’s Empowerment Center program was highlighted by the Daily Journal (Vineland) through a partnership event we participated this month. Check out the article on a coalition of local churches who are helping job seekers dress to impress!

Our staff were onsite to offer bilingual  employment services through the Empowerment Center program. The Empowerment Center provides individuals with intensive workforce development services in our communities looking for employment opportunities. Funding for this program is provided in partnership with the New Jersey Secretary of State, Center for Hispanic Policy Research and Development.

If you or someone you know needs employment assistance, or you might be interested in partnering with our organization to host services onsite at your location please contact our employment specialist at (856) 964-4692 today!

The Daily Journal’s article.

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