National Volunteer Week

Posted on April 11, 2014

We’re wrapping up National Volunteer Week here at Twin Oaks and didn’t want the week to slip away without giving all of our amazing volunteers a shout out on the blog! We are so grateful for their continuous hard work behind the scenes all year long. Our volunteers dedicate their time to sorting prom dresses for Project Dress Up, stocking shelves in the Food Pantry, counting diapers for Diaper Derby, lugging frozen turkeys for our Thanksgiving Turkey Drive, planting gardens at our groups homes and so much more!

No matter what tasks they are completing, each one of our volunteers is part of a dedicated group of community members who lead by example. Thank you for all that you do!

- Rachael

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Haddonfield Progressive Dinner – Cookbook Sneak Peek

Posted on April 10, 2014

Our Haddonfield Progressive Dinner is just two weeks away! We’re busy working on the exclusive cookbook which shares a recipe from each of the amazing chefs participating. Here’s a sneak peek of a recipe from Chef Todd Fuller of Farm & Fisherman Tavern & Market:

Indian Summer Hash

4 ears of corn, peeled and kernels removed
1 red pepper, diced small
1 small white onion, diced small
4 pieces of bacon, preferably thick cut, diced
1 Beefsteak tomato, diced small
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper


Render the bacon until almost entirely crispy. Remove only the bacon; add olive oil, pepper and onion to the pan with bacon fat. Cook on low heat until just starting to soften, approximately 10-12 minutes. Add the corn and cook for another 5 minutes or until the corn has just softened. Add the thyme and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the tomato while warm but not directly on the heat.

- Rachael

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Cassie’s Story

Posted on April 2, 2014

We’re half way through our race to collect 10,000 diapers, but we still need many more items to meet our Diaper Derby goal! We’re collecting diapers, wipes, formula and other necessary items for our most vulnerable consumers – babies! – through April 15.

Items collected from this drive help families in need throughout Twin Oaks programs. Cassie and her son Bryson are just one of the many families the Diaper Derby Drive will benefit. Cassie is a young mother determined to give her young son, Bryson, a better life. She receives therapy through the Twin Oaks Seasons program and is enrolled in parenting classes. Recently, Cassie started taking college courses and works evenings at a local restaurant. The tips she earns as a waitress fluctuate so she often struggles to make ends meet. Diapers from the Diaper Derby will help get Cassie through this difficult time as she works to build a future for her family!

To make a difference for Cassie, and so many others like her, visit our Diaper Derby page.

- Rachael

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Facing Hunger and Mental Illness

Posted on March 26, 2014

Today on the blog, we’re featuring a very important article Twin Oaks CEO Bob Pekar recently wrote for our Winter Newsletter:

This January I was proud to join the Board of Trustees of the Food Bank of South Jersey, which provides food to over 250 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters including the Twin Oaks Food Pantries in Mt. Holly and Berlin. It’s sad to think of anyone facing hunger in our community, but the reality is more than 170,000 South Jersey residents do not know where their next meal will come from. That’s 1 in 7 people who are food insecure, which means they don’t have regular access to enough food for a healthy life.

For many individuals living with a mental illness, food insecurity only adds to their daily challenges. They often face the harsh dilemma of spending what little they have to purchase the medications which keep them mentally stable, or to purchase food. When forced to make tough choices on how to spend a limited income, groceries often fall to the bottom of the list after medication, rent, utilities and heating fuel. In fact, 39% of emergency food clients in NJ report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.

Food insecurity also stands in the way of our goal to improve quality of life and increase self-sufficiency. Studies show food insecurity only elevates mood, anxiety, behavioral and substance abuse disorders. Hunger and poor nutrition in children are linked to mental health problems, learning disabilities, childhood obesity and poor education outcomes. By eliminating hunger-related stressors, individuals and families can better concentrate on their treatment and move toward wellness and recovery.

To help meet this need, Twin Oaks established the Mt. Holly Food Pantry in 2007 and the Berlin Food Pantry in 2012. Many of our consumers not only struggle with mental illness but also poverty, homelessness and limited social networks. We found that they lacked transportation to grocery stores and often visited corner stores with more expensive and less nutritious foods. In addition, consumers were unable to visit local food pantries during hours of operation because the schedule conflicted with their behavioral health day programs.

By providing the people we serve with this basic human need, we offer hope to those who already make tough choices every day. With the help of the Food Bank of South Jersey, individuals, corporations, local civic groups, schools and faith based organizations, the Twin Oaks Food Pantries in Mt. Holly and Berlin served an average of 500 families a month in 2013. We distributed 155,700 meals which is the equivalent of 186,840 pounds of food.

Statistics and studies can help us understand the number of people impacted by hunger, but they can’t communicate the real pain experienced by families struggling to put food on the table. Community support of local food banks and anti-hunger programs is critical to end this pain. Please remember that every dollar, every bag of food counts. Thank you for your support as we fight to ensure food security for the most vulnerable members of our community.

- Bob Pekar

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Overcoming Hopelessness – The Greenfield’s Story

Posted on March 20, 2014

When caring for a loved one with a mental illness, families often feel like they have nowhere to turn. Isolation, frustration and fatigue can occur and caretakers forget to take care of themselves.

To assist families facing these issues, Twin Oaks established the Intensive Family Support Services (IFSS) program. IFSS helps families caring for an adult family member with a serious mental illness learn to be supportive in ways that promote wellness, recovery and independence.

The program helps families navigate the mental health system, learn about treatment options, utilize coping strategies, better manage crisis situations and advocate more effectively. IFSS offers individualized family consultations, psychoeducational groups, referrals to additional services, support groups and respite care.

Mitchell and Janey’s son MJ excelled in the classroom and on the football field throughout high school. However, soon after graduation, MJ began to withdraw. Normal teenage mood swings turned into violent outbursts and communication began to dissolve.

After one tumultuous evening, the Greenfields reached out to the Twin Oaks Crisis Screening program. The program helped with the immediate crisis, but the family knew there was a deeper issue. After additional doctor’s visits, the Greenfields received the explanation for MJ’s changes- schizophrenia.

The diagnosis sent shockwaves through the tight knit family and they struggled to understand the illness and care for MJ while coping with this devastating change. Janey even quit her job to be more available. Feeling overwhelmed and lost, the Greenfields turned to IFSS for help.

IFSS began working with the family by offering in-home education about schizophrenia and respite outings for MJ. The weekly sessions gave Mitchell and Janey a much needed break from the 24 hour care they were giving their son. As they struggled to find MJ the right medication and day program, Janey continued to feel helpless.

With staff encouragement, Janey started attending the IFSS support groups which she found to be, “honest and eye-opening.” Most importantly, she made friends who can relate to her situation more than anyone else. This support network is invaluable to a family who once felt so alone.

Recently, MJ enrolled in the Twin Oaks Berlin Partial Care day program. The Greenfields still have good days and bad days, but with the support, education and respite IFSS provides, they now feel stronger than ever.

We know asking for help isn’t always easy. If you or someone you know needs assistance, call IFSS today to make an appointment: 856-482-8747.

- Rachael

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The Race is On!

Posted on March 15, 2014

Twin Oaks is racing to collect 10,000 diapers through our annual Diaper Derby! We’re collecting diapers, wipes, formula and other necessary items for our most vulnerable consumers – babies – now through April 15!

Make a difference by donating diapers or dollars. Here’s how:

  1. Run your OWN Diaper Derby with your classmates, co-workers or community members. We’ll provide you with a toolkit including collection bins, posters and email templates. *This is a great team building activity!
  2. Drop off donations to a Twin Oaks location.
  3. Donate online or mail monetary contributions to: Twin Oaks Community Services, 770 Woodlane Road, Suite 16, Mt. Holly, NJ 08060.


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Posted on March 6, 2014

Project Dress Up organizers Lisa Lipka and Anne Greenwood pose with collected dresses.

Project Dress Up Co-Chairs and Twin Oaks Employees Lisa Lipka and Anne Greenwood

We’re receiving oodles of dresses, shoes and bags for Project Dress Up, but we’re still in need of many more items to #MakePromPossible!

If you have any of the following items in your closet, give them a second chance by donating them to Project Dress Up:

  • Formal Dresses in good condition (all sizes, colors & styles)
  • Dress Shoes
  • Formal Purses
  • Clutches
  • Shawls
  • Jewelry

You can drop off your items Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm NOW until March 31st at any of the following locations:

Twin Oaks Yates Center
79 Chestnut Street, Lumberton NJ

Twin Oaks Main Office
770 Woodlane Road, Mt. Holly, NJ

Twin Oaks Berlin Office
128 Cross Keys Road, Berlin, NJ

- Rachael

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Hunger Heroes: Bottom Dollar Food

Posted on February 27, 2014


Twin Oaks Chief Development Officer Pam Collins
and Bottom Dollar Food of Edgewater Park Store Manager Jim Smith


The newest Hunger Hero to join our ranks is Bottom Dollar Food! Recently, our Mt. Holly Food Pantry was selected as a grant recipient by the Bottom Dollar Food Charitable Foundation. Earlier today, Twin Oaks was presented with a check for $2,500 to help meet the growing demand at our pantry.

During this frigid winter, many of our consumers face the harsh reality of going hungry because they are using their meager income to heat their home and pay for their medications.  It’s imperative for Twin Oaks to have caring community partners, like Bottom Dollar Food, who support our efforts to make sure food doesn’t have to be a choice!

Thank you Bottom Dollar Food!

Want to be a Hunger Hero, too? Here’s 3 ways you can make a difference:

1. Give Time. Volunteer to hold your own food drive! Recruit your friends, family and co-workers to help. Twin Oaks will assist you every step of the way.

2. Give Food. Drop off food donations at our Mount Holly or Berlin location. Call 609-267-5928 for instructions.

3. Give Funds. Make a monetary donation online or mail to Twin Oaks Community Services, Attn.: Development Office, 770 Woodlane Road, Suite 23, Mt. Holly, NJ 08060.

- Rachael

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Posted on February 18, 2014

In 2013, stay at home mom, Christine, and her husband, Joe, noticed the way their son Brayden’s face lit up when he saw his own teddy bear. Christine and Joe agreed; every child should experience the same joy. This thought became the catalyst for Brayden’s Bears.

The concept is simple, Brayden’s Bears donates a teddy bear to a child for every single bear they sell. The donated bears go to local non profits including the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and Toys for Tots Camden County NJ Chapter as well. Twin Oaks Community Services is also the lucky recipient of these bears!

For every bear sold at the Collingswood toy store duck duck goose, Twin Oaks receives a bear for a child in need.


We’re so lucky to have such a generous partner!

- Rachael

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Twin Oaks!

Posted on February 14, 2014


Got Love? Become a Foster Parent!

The Twin Oaks Foster Home Program provides stable, loving homes for children and teens of all ages unable to live with their biological families. Children referred to the program are often victims of abuse and neglect and have special emotional needs. Our program prepares each foster home for certification by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Licensing and provides unconditional personal support through monthly training, case management and therapy.

Remember- foster parents are people just like YOU with love to give. If you are able to provide a safe, stable and loving home for children and teens, please consider becoming a foster parent. For more information fill out our inquiry form and we will contact you.

- Rachael

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