SERV consumers channel their optimism into artwork as state eases up on COVID-19 restrictions

As a result of the global pandemic, our nation recently braved one of its darkest springs. Thankfully, though, that darkness has given way to a resurgence of hope and the sights, sounds, and smells of summer.

This notion of summer and renewed optimism has become a primary theme in the artwork of SERV’s consumers. Take a look through their sketches and paintings, and you’ll see the sun sinking into the ocean, its copper-colored glow spilling out across the waves. You’ll hear the birds sing and the boardwalk creak beneath your sandals. You’ll smell the salt in the air, fresh cut grass, and burgers hot off the barbeque. A newfound sense of calmness will wash over you.

“For the consumers, art has been integral to coping with the uncertainty of living through a pandemic,” said Kelly Rufe, Director of SERV Centers in Mercer County. “The COVID-19 crisis is less than ideal, but I’m grateful that it has afforded them the opportunity to develop their creative minds and experiment with different mediums.”

Rufe added that lately, “it’s been exciting” to watch so many of them channel “their hopefulness about summer and the lessening of restrictions” into their artwork. 

Perhaps the most vibrant and colorful project to date—a tie-dye activity—took place last week, at SERV’s Stepping Stones facility.

Coordinator Carly Kleiman assisted several consumers during the activity. Working together, they soaked their old, white t-shirts in rainbow dye, transforming them into swirling masterpieces.

“Although quarantine measures have had many feeling trapped, consumers have staved off feelings of anxiety and boredom by turning to art as a form of self-therapy,” Kleiman said. “Now that the end to this crisis is in our sights, our spirits are high, and we’re ready for the summer.”

The tie-dyed shirts turned out better than expected, according to Kleiman, and many consumers have expressed excitement about wearing them to gatherings this summer once more social distancing restrictions have been lifted.

CCBHC opens for partial care services

virtual therapy orig orig

Partners in wellness, SERV Centers of New Jersey’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), located at 777 Bloomfield Avenue in Clifton, NJ, is open for partial care services for adults ages 18+. The CCBHC provides outpatient, co-occurring services including therapy, psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and residential care. Please contact 973-594-0125 for additional information. 

Amid the disruption and uncertainty related to the COVID-19 outbreak, SERV has remained committed to our mission and focused on providing the highest quality care to the consumers. Over the past few months, we have instituted several measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus and protect the consumers, our staff, and the community. This includes pivoting to Telehealth services and adapting our programs to meet the needs of consumers. We will continue to diligently monitor the pandemic and follow all recommendations made by health and government authorities.

Services are being offered by the CCBHC Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The office is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for inquiries and assistance. If you think you’re experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room for help.

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Manchester Group Home turns to gardening as a way to cope with stress during pandemic

The garden project started back in May of 2015. At the time, SERV’s Manchester Group Home, an all-female home, housed three consumers, and those three worked with staff members to plant vegetables in a patch of dirt behind their residence.

Five years later, that patch of dirt is lush with tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed lettuce, and green peppers.

“I look forward to preparing the home’s garden and watching the veggies grow each year,” said Joseph Koch, Facility Manager.

When asked about all of the effort that goes into the garden, Koch recognized maintenance worker Kevin Stokes. He said that in mid-May, after the last frost for the Manchester area, Stokes worked “especially hard” to get the garden ready, pulling weeds, turning over the soil, and planting vegetables.

The consumers at Manchester Group Home also play a major role in tending to the garden. They take turns watering the plants and harvest the vegetables once they’re ripe.

Gardening has always been touted as a relaxing recreational hobby, and amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, consumers and staff have turned to the activity as a way to cope with stress and boredom.

House Manager Janetta Jackson said that gardening has been a rewarding experience for the consumers, as it has forced people outdoors and promoted teamwork in a time when many are feeling isolated.

“The consumers also enjoy watching the garden grow and eating the vegetables,” Jackson added.

The consumers at Manchester Group Home have handled this crisis well, according to Jackson. In addition to gardening, they have also turned to baking and arts and crafts to help combat stress and boredom while the state remains shutdown.  

SERV awarded emergency grant from LTCF

SERV was one of 14 nonprofits in the Lawrence community to receive a special emergency grant from the Lawrence Township Community Foundation (LTCF) at a virtual ceremony on Thursday, May 21.  

The $4,000 grant will help SERV provide personal protective equipment, arts and crafts, and games to group homes in Lawrence Township. SERV will also use the funds to expand telehealth services.

Ashley Smith, SERV’s Director of Corporate and Individual Giving, attended Thursday’s ceremony on behalf of the organization.

“We are so grateful for the Lawrence Township Community Foundation for rallying together to help local nonprofits in need,” Smith said. “Their generosity will help us to provide protective equipment to staff and consumers. It will also allow us to purchase more games and activities for consumers who are dealing with stress and anxiety during this challenging time.”  

SERV was “one of the only first time applicants awarded a grant,” according to Smith, who applied for the grant in April.

The LTCF has provided funding to nonprofits serving the Lawrence community twice a year for 18 years. In total, the foundation awarded $50,000 on Thursday—a record amount.

“The Board Members were very concerned about the impact of the virus on Lawrence residents,” said Rachel Cantlay, President of the all-volunteer organization.  “While we have sparingly used some of the money for special projects, like Community Conversations and Hurricane Sandy, the volunteer board unanimously agreed that with the terrible results of the pandemic on the people of Lawrence, now was the right time to go all in.”