Spread the Warmth

Posted on December 10, 2014

The Medford Lakes Women’s Club recently hosted an event to collect new coats, hats, gloves and scarves to help kids in Twin Oaks programs stay warm this winter. All together, they collected 30 coats, 60 hats, 85 gloves and 15 scarves!
Thank you to everyone who supported this drive! These items are desperately needed during the cold winter months and will help children in our communities this season.

– Rachael

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Spread Holiday Cheer This Year: Jessica, Charles & Ben

Posted on December 8, 2014

yellow holiday

We invite YOU to spread holiday cheer this year. You can make an impact by giving a monetary contribution, providing holiday gifts or sponsoring a family in need. Just imagine the joy and holiday memories your donation will bring to those who need it the most…

Jessica and Charles didn’t know where to turn. They struggled for many years to find the best treatment for their thirteen-year-old son Benjamin who has autism, cerebral palsy and is blind. Just as they were losing all hope, they decided to try our Bridging Family Support program, which provides intensive in-home support for children with developmental disabilities.

When we first met Ben, he was non-verbal and had no communication skills. He refused to get on the bus and experienced social difficulties at school. By developing his love of music, our therapeutic team worked with Ben to expand his vocabulary and he now uses thirty words! The family now focuses on positive behaviors and forming coping skills to deal with frustrations. Jessica and Charles are ecstatic that Ben now gets excited every morning to ride the bus to school with new friends.

Although Ben’s quality of life is improving, the family continues to struggle financially because of skyrocketing medical bills. To make matters worse, Charles was laid off from his job in the construction field earlier this year. When Jessica isn’t dedicating time to Ben, she works part time while he is in school. The family visits the Twin Oaks Food Pantry monthly so they have enough food to put on the table.

Looking forward to 2015, the family hopes to stay in their home and get their finances back on track. Jessica shares, “There is absolutely nothing worse than the feelings of complete hopelessness I felt at this point last year. I cannot believe the progress we have made as a family. Tomorrow no longer seems so overwhelming.”

Visit our Holiday Giving Drive page to learn how you can make a difference this holiday season!

– Rachael

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What are you thankful for?

Posted on November 27, 2014

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

During the holiday season, more than ever, my thoughts turn gratefully to everyone who supports our mission. We can’t thank you enough for sharing the warmth and joy of your heart with those served by our organization. As our organization grows, so has your generosity.

In 2014 we served over 11,000 people and opened several new programs to help meet the ever-growing need for services in our community. It is not enough for us to simply offer services to community members who come to us struggling with mental illness. Our job is to provide a consistent, compassionate support system to help individuals stay engaged through the life struggles they face and move on to lead full, productive lives.

So far this year, you helped us collect over 18,500 diapers, 340 prom dresses, 650 stuffed backpacks, and MUCH more for vulnerable children, adults and families in Twin Oaks programs. Your donations make an incredible impact on the lives of individuals and families in our programs. Families like the Coopers…

The Cooper family turned to Twin Oaks earlier this year after mom Janine faced life threatening complications following a surgery that put tremendous financial and emotional stress on the family of six. Janine was forced to leave her job and the family was left to deal with mounting medical bills on dad Matthew’s salary.

Over the past nine months the Coopers have received family therapy and counseling at our Family Preservation Services program (FPS). The family learned behavior management skills and new healthy ways to cope with the mental and physical stressors in their lives. Janine said it best, “I no longer feel guilt and shame and understand that we have the power to make positive changes.”

Although Janine’s health has improved and she looks forward to beginning work again in the new year, the family will struggle to make ends meet this holiday season. You can help us spread joy and happiness to all of our consumers during the holidays by giving the gift of a child’s toy, a warm winter coat or a bag of groceries. Each simple act of kindness will mean so much to someone vulnerable, suffering or alone.

As we move forward into 2015, your generosity is critical now more than ever. Whether you help by volunteering, making a donation or simply advocating on our behalf, we can’t thank you enough for your continued support.

Best wishes for the holiday season,

Bob Pekar
Chief Executive Officer

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Twin Oaks Receives Over 900 Turkeys

Posted on November 26, 2014

A big THANK YOU to our generous community partners who donated
over 900 turkeys with all the trimmings for Thanksgiving this year! All of our donors, volunteers and staff made this drive a success
and contributed to another record breaking year!

Check out some of the photos we captured from this year’s drive:

Princeton HouseDonors from Princeton House Behavioral Health

mooseWomen of the Moose of Mt. Holly

Westampton Middle School Sign Westampton Middle School FoodWestampton Middle School’s drive packed our vehicles!

Stewart Business SystemsCheck out the artwork on the Stewart Business Systems donation box

remaxReMax of Cherry Hill brought us so many items

Save A Lot Turkeys 2Turkeys from our Save-A-Lot donation

Goddard School Delran 1 Goddard School Delran 4Goddard School’s donation and the cutest little turkey!

Medford Middle SchoolOur jam packed car from Milton H. Allen Elementary School

CourtneyCourtney hosted a food drive for us

The Burlington County Bridge Commission brought us a truckload of donations

brandonandallisaVolunteers busy at work!

AdminPartnersADMIN Partners and their donations

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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Spread Holiday Cheer This Year

Posted on November 24, 2014

yellow holiday

Do you want to help others in your community this holiday season?

Twin Oaks invites you to create holiday magic by taking part in our Holiday Giving Drive! For many of us, the festive holiday season is full of laughter, gifts and memories with loved ones. Unfortunately, for families struggling to make ends meet the holidays can be an especially challenging time of year.

Share YOUR Holiday Spirit:

1. Hold a Gift Drive. Twin Oaks will provide you with the necessary tools to run your own gift drive from your home, school or office. Invite friends, family and co-workers to help!

2. Sponsor a family or group home. Twin Oaks will provide you with a wishlist for a family in need or a group home. This will help ensure every Twin Oaks consumer receives a gift this holiday season.

3. Make a Monetary Donation. No time to shop? We’ll do it for you! Donate online or mail monetary contributions to Twin Oaks Community Services, Attn: Development Office, 770 Woodlane Road, Mt. Holly, NJ 08060

Donation Ideas:
Please keep in mind gifts for teens and adults!

Board Games, Puzzles
Arts and Crafts
Educational Toys
Musical Toys
Basketballs, Footballs, Soccer Balls
Warm Clothing, Pajamas
Coats, Gloves, Hats, Scarves

Warm Blankets
Board Games, Puzzles
Hand-held Electronics, MP3 Players
Personal Care Items
Warm Clothing, Sports Jerseys
Coats, Gloves
Scarves, Hats

Drop off new, unwrapped gifts through Wednesday, December 17 at one of the following locations:

Twin Oaks Community Services
770 Woodlane Road, Suite 16
Mount Holly, NJ 08060

Twin Oaks Community Services
499 Cooper Landing Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

For more information or to sponsor a family or group home call 609-267-5928.

– Rachael

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Healing Through Art Therapy

Posted on November 17, 2014

art therapy 2

art therapy1


Crayons, construction paper, newspaper, water color paints, chalk… believe it or not, such simple tools can help children heal emotionally, psychologically and behaviorally.

The use of Creative Art Therapy continues to grow as a way to promote healing in our Children’s Residential Programs. Sadly, poor relationships and low self-esteem is often learned through difficult childhood experiences. The therapy model uses art as the ‘vehicle’ that allows us to transport children to emotional safety.

When children enter the group home, an Art Therapist helps with the initial assessment in order to develop an effective treatment plan. The therapist alternates structured educational sessions with “Open Studio” sessions which empower children to create their own art in a positive, safe environment. Individual and group sessions give children a creative outlet to communicate their feelings and discover underlying thoughts which might be difficult to express in words.

For example, when children enter the group home they create a picture of a sea creature that represents themselves. The picture is added to a fishbowl which represents the group home. When children leave the home, their sea creature is placed outside of the bowl in the ocean area. The project becomes a rite of passage during a critical transition period as well as a source of inspiration.

The therapy model positively impacts many children in Twin Oaks residential programs including 10-yearold Cameron. Cameron came from an abusive home and the trauma he endured made him feel worthless. At first, he did not even want to try Art Therapy fearing he’d be bad at it. After the therapist explained that there is no right or wrong way to be an artist, he let his creativity shine through!

Cameron created birdhouses with sticks he gathered in the yard and developed an interest in mosaic art. When he completed his first mosaic painting from small scraps of cardboard, his confidence soared. Painting allowed him to express his negative feelings without making him feel weak. Introducing art into Cameron’s life gave a child who once thought he would never be successful at anything, something to be proud of.

Whether it’s a rainy day to display a sad memory, a heart to show a good day or a dark scribble to express frustration, each child in our group homes can use their imagination to tell their story. As you can see from the drawings surrounding this article, art has become more than just an activity. It is the catalyst for healing and the pathway to a brighter future.

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It’s Turkey Time!

Posted on November 3, 2014

PrintTwin Oaks is gearing up for our annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive! Last year, with the help of our generous donors, we distributed over 900 turkeys with all the trimmings.

Don’t miss your chance to make a difference this Thanksgiving! Donate now through November 24!


Ways to Get Involved

1) Hold a Food Drive! Gather your friends, family or co-workers to help. Drop off food donations to a Twin Oaks Food Pantry:

Mt. Holly Food Pantry                           Berlin Food Pantry
770 Woodlane Road, Suite 16            128 Berlin Cross-Keys Road
Mt. Holly, NJ 08060                               Berlin, NJ 08009

Donation Ideas

    • Frozen turkey/ham
    • Canned sweet potatoes/yams
    • Cranberry sauce
    • Mashed potatoes
    • Canned vegetables
    • Bread/muffin mix
    • Macaroni and cheese
    • Pie filling and crust
    • Stuffing
    • Gravy

2) Donate Online or by Mail! For every $2.71 donated, we can purchase a Thanksgiving meal for someone in need.

DonateOnlineToday (1)

Mail monetary donations to:

Twin Oaks Community Services, Attn: Development Office
770 Woodlane Road, Suite 15, Mt. Holly NJ, 08060

3) Volunteer! Volunteers are needed the week of Thanksgiving to pack bags and distribute food.

Contact Keyanna Turner at 609.267.5928 x99836 or keyanna.turner@twinoakscs.org

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2014 Moorestown Progressive Dinner Photos

Posted on October 20, 2014

Visit our Flickr page to see all the fabulous photos from our tenth annual Moorestown Progressive Dinner!

tnoks1400672014 Moorestown Progressive Dinner Hosts

Thank you to all the hosts, chefs, guests and local businesses that made this event so successful!


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Mental Illness: Time to Make a Difference

Posted on October 8, 2014

Mental Illness Awareness Week

October 5th through the 11th is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). It is an important opportunity to learn the symptoms of major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other conditions.

It also is an opportunity for conversations about mental health care, helping to end the silence that often exists.

One in four adults experiences a mental health problem ever year.

One in five children and teens also experience serious emotional disorders.

1/2 of cases of chronic mental illness begin by the age of 14 and 3/4 by age 24.

Unfortunately, there are long delays−sometimes decades−between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help.

Early identification and treatment can make a big difference for successful management of an illness and; recovery. Yet only1/3 of adults and less than 1/2 of children with mental illness receive treatment. One reason is that symptoms may not be immediately recognized. Another is that stigma and silence surrounding mental illness that discourages many people from seeking help. Still another is lack of access to mental health care.

During MIAW, everyone should learn the symptoms of mental illness. Information about specific diagnoses and treatment options is available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org or from its HelpLine at 1-800-950-6264.

No one should have to confront mental illness alone. Know where to find help in case it is ever needed. MIAW is a time to learn and to help make a difference.

Find help today. Contact Twin Oaks Community Services at 1-800-963-3377.

This blog post was brought to you by our friends at NAMI.

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Moorestown Progressive Dinner – Cookbook Sneak Peek

Posted on October 6, 2014

Our Moorestown Progressive Dinner is less than 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:

Double-Stuffed Butternut Squash

2 butternut squash (1½ – 2 pounds each)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound bacon
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh sage
Thinly sliced scallions
Preheat oven to 425°F. Halve each butternut squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Roast just until tender, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Decrease oven temperature to 375°F. Cut the bacon into small pieces, and then cook in a skillet until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4” around the edges to keep the squash intact. Mash the squash flesh with 1½ cups of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and all of the ricotta, sage, and thyme. Add in half of the bacon and stir to combine. Stuff the squash shells with the mashed squash.

Top with the remaining cheddar and Parmesan. Bake until heated through and the cheese on top has melted, about 20 minutes. Garnish with the scallions and the remaining bacon.

– Rachael

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