Ocean County Unveils New Mobile Outreach Unit

Citing the size of Ocean County and the challenges in accessing transportation to acquire services, a new mobile outreach unit specifically for social service programs will bring assistance directly into communities across the County’s 640 squares miles.

With large ceremonial scissors in hand, members of the Ocean County Board of Social Services, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, social service providers, and social service staff celebrated the arrival of the first mobile outreach unit for social services in Ocean County during a ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 26.

“Today, I am thrilled to join with the members of the Board of Social Services, the staff and our guests to unveil what I believe will become a very important tool in getting services directly to the people of Ocean County,” said Ocean County Commissioner Barbara Jo Crea, who is liaison to the Board of Social Services.

“This mobile outreach unit will make its way across Ocean County going directly into communities, to events, and to provide one on one services when the need arises.

“The unit will be staffed by professionals from the Board of Social Services who are knowledgeable about the numerous programs the agency implements,” Crea said. “This mobile outreach unit is another strong example of our commitment to the most vulnerable residents of Ocean County.”

Board of Social Services Chairman Pastor Peter M. Hartney Jr., called the delivery of the mobile outreach unit the successful result of a practice of collaboration.

“From the beginning when we met with Morris County and they shared their mobile unit with us and showed us what worked for them to us determining how to make their practice work for Ocean County, this is a collaboration that will continue from this day out,” Hartney said.

“There are many places we can bring the services that people need, and we have eliminated one of the obstacles of receiving these services by having a mobile unit. This is a collaboration and partnership that will only bear more fruit in the end.”

The Ocean County Board of Social Services created its first mobile Outreach Program with the purchase of a Chevy G4500 cutaway van fitted with an 18-foot box body which was modified to meet the needs of the Social Services Outreach Staff.

The vehicle has two workstations where the staff can take applications for Work First New Jersey programs such as General Assistance (GA), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or provide information and referrals to the residents of Ocean County that may be harder to reach.

“This is a fully functional office on wheels,” said Director of the Board of Social Services Meredith Sheehan. “We will be available to attend special events in the community and to partner with other providers on a regularly set schedule.”

The Board of Social Services plans to distribute a calendar of where the Mobile Outreach vehicle and staff will be monthly.

“Although the OCBSS has offices in Lakewood, Toms River, and Manahawkin we know there are barriers to transportation for some folks and we also know that some people may not be comfortable coming in to see us for many different reasons,” Sheehan said. “We want to meet people where they are.”

The mobile outreach unit staff consists of Human Service Specialists who have a wide range of knowledge of the more than 50 programs administered by the agency and are also very committed to helping people.

Commissioner Crea extended the appreciation of the Board of Commissioners to the staff at Social Services and to the service providers that work closely with the Board of Social Services.

“Without you, the challenges we face would be far greater to navigate,” she said. “Your work does not go unnoticed.”

The mobile unit was dedicated to the late Ronald S. Dancer, who served on the Board of Social Services from 1997 until his passing on July 22, 2022. He was chairman of the Board.
“The saying on the outreach unit states ‘as individuals we are one drop, together we are an ocean,’ ” Sheehan said.

Anyone requesting a calendar or participation of the mobile unit at an event, can email outreach@ocbss.ocean.nj.us.

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