The organization's mission is to “support the family unit by helping to change the economic circumstances and improving the overall quality of life for children, the elderly, low-income families, the working poor and the homeless.”
About St. James Social Service Corporation
During the 1990’s, there was a significant cutback in programs which included welfare and a great number of people were affected. This in itself, created a crisis situation for many families, who had no place to go for assistance. In 1996, St. James Social Service Corporation (SJSSC) was founded to help provide much needed services to the community. Since its inception, SJSSC has been dedicated to helping to restore economic and social empowerment, self-sufficiency and financial independence for the working poor, unemployed, underemployed, the homeless and in general, those in need.
A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization located in the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey, the organization was initially formed to support the outreach ministries of Saint James A.M.E. Church, a long time pillar of the community. Over the years, SJSSC has grown to become an independent agency that provides services to more than 30,000 people annually. Known as the “Small agency that does BIG things”, SJSSC has a reputation of being one of the leading social service agencies in the City of Newark, Essex County and the State of New Jersey.
Historically, the agency programming has been based on the needs of the community. Hunger was identified as the most urgent need and the Saint James Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen was established. Run by volunteers, the feeding programs originally operated out of the church. The focus was to feed the homeless and provide food packages to those in need once a month. Today, what is now known as the St. James Emergency Food Pantry and Christian Café soup kitchen, collectively provide over 100,000 units of food to more than 20,000 people annually. SJSSC is one of the largest providers of food in Essex County and is the only food pantry in the County that is open 5 days a week. We are able to do that because of our relationship and support from the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, who is the agency’s main supplier of food. Also, as a member of the Catholic Charities M.E.N.D. food pantry network, SJSSC receives supplementary food to help keep the pantry shelves full. Due to the financial climate our patrons are no longer just the homeless, but the hungry.
In 2016, because of a grant from the Grotta Foundation, SJSSC has been able to take the pantry beyond our four walls and bring food to a local senior building. This collaboration was established to help provide food security for seniors and also a means of socialization for the residents. In 2012, SJSSC received National attention when the Christian Café received a makeover by Celebrity Chef Robert Irvin and was featured on the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible. That was an exciting experience for the staff, volunteers and patrons of the Christian Café.
Located in a historic Victorian building on the hill of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, SJSSC is a licensed HIV testing and counseling site. As an agency, we also provide homeless prevention services; long and short term case management; supportive services for people and families living with HIV/AIDS; general referral services; a lead awareness and prevention program; and our at-risk youth programs consist of the Intergenerational Afterschool Program and the Safe Haven Summer Peace Camp.