Nearly $2 million for local humanitarian projects championed by Rep. Chris Smith cleared a major hurdle in Congress last week as the House Appropriations Committee approved federal funding for projects as part of congressional spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAM
A large portion of the federal dollars requested by Smith includes $750,000 to renovate and reconfigure the Providence House Ocean County Safe House operated by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Trenton in Manchester, which provides safe shelter and transitional housing for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
“With this positive infusion of federal dollars, we can give the women and children who survive domestic violence the safety required to permit them to find permanent housing, employment, and attend school so they can rebuild their lives, break the cycle of violence and thrive,” said Smith, who earlier this year also secured $500,000 for the diocesan-affiliated Seeds of Service community outreach center in Brick that serves nearly 4,000 local households with food services.
“We are truly grateful to Congressman Smith for supporting our Providence House project,” said Marlene Laó-Collins, Executive Director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Trenton. “With Congressman Smith’s advocacy and guidance, we look forward to making a safe space where families impacted by domestic violence can begin healing.”
“Our hearts are full at Providence House today,” said Mary Pettrow, Director of Children and Family Services at Catholic Charities. “Receiving this funding is nothing short of a miracle. We provided over 25,000 nights of shelter during the past two years and have worked to overcome challenges that arose with the increased demand for domestic violence services during the pandemic.”
AUTISM EDUCATION PROGRAM
Additional funds requested by Smith that were approved by the Committee include $400,00 for the purchase of classroom furniture and equipment for pre-vocational training at Achieve Academy for Adults with Autism.
Located at the Brookdale Community College Campus in Wall, the Academy will provide a daily continuing education program for adults with autism with the goal of securing employment while reinforcing essential life skills.
“In a state with the second highest incidence of autism in the country, these federal funds will be put to great use to greatly enrich the lives of Achieve Academy students and help support their families throughout adulthood,” said Smith, a tireless advocate for the autism community who also secured $200,000 for Autism New Jersey and $60,000 for the Shore Center for Students with Autism in Tinton Falls earlier this year.
HOSPITAL—STATE-OF-THE-ART EQUIPTMENT TO FIGHT CANCER
Smith said the Committee also approved $615,00 to upgrade equipment at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold to enable state-of-the-art Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) used to treat primary and metastatic brain and spine cancers, as well as epilepsy and other neurological conditions.
“This upgraded equipment will benefit patients throughout Central Jersey by enabling those with cancer—the second leading cause of death in our state—and other serious diseases to access state-of-the-art treatment options that are close to home,” said Smith.
“CentraState wishes to express our sincere gratitude to Congressman Smith for securing the inclusion of this important funding in the House Labor-HHS appropriations bill,” said Thomas W. Scott, President and CEO of CentraState Medical Center. “This funding will enable our organization’s existing Elekta Linear Accelerator to deliver state-of-the-art Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) to our patients suffering from the most progressive forms of cancer.”
“We thank Congressman Smith for his efforts on this project and for his decades-long support for the critical work that we do,” said Scott.
Passed by the House Appropriations Committee, the appropriations bills containing the three projects are expected to be brought to the full House of Representatives before the end of the month.