Since 1983, St. Joseph's has served the materially poor and homeless community of greater Elizabeth, New Jersey, by providing basic human needs such as food, clothing and medications, as well as a wide range of services and programs to help them acquire the material goods and social services they need to live with dignity.
St. Joseph's is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. To view our Form 990, click here.
A Brief History
Our ministry to people in need dates back to 1968, when the American Friends Service Committee began a housing assistance program in Elizabeth. One of its staff was Sr. Jacinta Fernandes, who became one of the founders of St Joseph’s. She and other Sisters distributed food and clothing from Sacred Heart Convent. These programs then gave birth to CUE (Coalition for a United Elizabeth), from which came the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.
In 1983, Sacred Heart merged with Our Lady of Fatima Church. The food and clothing programs were formalized and became Our Lady of Fatima Social Service Center, with Sr. Jacinta as the director. Edie Cheney assisted her part time, while also pursuing her studies in family therapy. Both the Coalition and the Social Service Center were housed at Our Lady of Fatima Convent (the former Sacred Heart Convent).
On February 10, 1986, Our Lady of Fatima Social Service Center and the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless relocated to the former St. Joseph's Church at 118 Division St. This location provided more space for the growing number of clients. Our Lady of Fatima Social Service Center then became St. Joseph Social Service Center with Sr. Jacinta and Edie as its leadership team. Services were expanded to include a soup kitchen, job program, counseling services and medical clinic, which evolved into a prescription assistance program. In addition to housing advocacy, the Coalition added on a children's program and three transitional houses.
Sr. Jacinta and Edie led St Joseph Social Service Center for more than 30 years. They stepped down from their full time work at the end of 2017 and are discerning their next ministries. Bernadette Murphy is now the Director and Annette Calderin is taking on Edie’s responsibilities in counseling and leadership. The dedicated staff, board, and volunteers of St. Joseph’s continue to partner with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless as sister agencies, to serve the poor and homeless of the Elizabeth area.