Jerry Swon has a longstanding interest in volunteering and community involvement.

Month: September 2018

Market Street Mission | Jerry Swon

Market Street Mission: Aiming to Help the Homeless, Helpless, & Hopeless

Roughly half a million people in the United States experience homelessness each year. With such a large population affected by homelessness, the organizations that seek to help the homeless and offer rehabilitation in addition to food and shelter are inspiring. Market Street Mission of Morristown, New Jersey is one such organization, and they’ve been helping the homeless for more than a century.


Their mission, as stated on their website, reads, “The Market Street Mission ministers to the homeless, helpless, and hopeless in Northern NJ by meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs through a structured program which enables them to lead responsible, productive lives.” They aim to help those who are disenfranchised or unable to help themselves, and though their mission statement does not directly reference their faith, they also aim to teach the way of Christianity in order to instill hope. They do not shun those who suffer from addiction but rather offer a hand to guide them in the direction of recovery. Overall, the Market Street Mission wants to help provide things like food, shelter, and ministry primarily to the homeless population of New Jersey.


In 1889, Louisa Graves Owen realized that many of the women who attended her Bible study classes were married to alcoholics; she, with her husband, opened a residential program for alcoholic men. This program eventually transformed into the Market Street Mission, and the goals turned from only helping alcoholic men to helping anyone, especially the homeless, and teaching the gospel to those who would benefit from hearing it.


The largest program of this organization is the Life Change Program, which is centered on men who want to make a change in their lives, usually in regards to alcoholism. The program typically lasts a year and entails two phases designed to foster sobriety and promote a sense of community engagement. Therapy and counseling sessions, as well as classes on topics like “Fatherhood” and “Relapse Management” are provided to better care for the needs of the enrolled men.

In addition to the Life Change Program, Market Street Mission hosts daily chapel services open to the public, as well as family counseling services.


Donations of canned goods and other non-perishables, as well as monetary donations, are most appreciated, and their website regularly updates a list of current needs for locals to reference. They encourage all to research and educate themselves and others about the issues homeless people face, and to advocate for programs that support those in need. More information on how you can get involved and support their mission can be found on their Make A Difference page.

Creating Community Change | Jerry Swon

Creating Community Change: Finding or Forming a Local Group

Creating change in your community sometimes feels like an impossible task; without organization and clear goals, the prospect of enacting and maintaining a significant change seems somewhat impossible. However, if you believe your community is in need of change — whether you want to propose a sustainability initiative or a rehabilitation program — a local group of like-minded people might be the answer.

Finding A Group

Though you may feel inclined to jump in and create your own group, make sure you do a full sweep of any existing groups. Finding a group that suits your goals and needs will not only save you time and energy but will also provide an established platform for you to share ideas. You will also avoid creating unnecessary tension, should a group with your goals already exist. Make sure you exhaust all your resources in your search; it’s better to spend time researching what groups are in your community before going ahead and creating your own.

Look into your local newspaper or do a quick Google search to see what you find. There are a number of kinds of groups that might exist, from youth programs and university organizations to town councils and neighborhood associations, and while your community might not have all of these groups, it will be beneficial to explore what exists and engage with community leaders; even if the group you’re looking for isn’t out there (yet!), other leaders may be able to offer support and advice for starting your own group.

Forming A Group

If you find that there isn’t a group that fits your desires, that is when you will want to think about starting your own group. While the process isn’t necessarily easy, it will be rewarding. Arguably the most important step is the first step: Network. In order to have a functional group, you have to connect with other locals. This will require you to get out and talk to people, find those who are like-minded and those whose skills will help achieve your goals, and get them interested.

The next step after cultivating interest is to schedule your first meeting. You should choose a place that is easily accessible and make sure you spread the word; use social media platforms to create and share events, or hang flyers in your area.

Even if attendance is relatively low, keep in mind that you’re bringing people together who also want to enact a change. The process might be slow, but as long as you work on a schedule and objectives, your group will have goals.

Take notes and be mindful of everyone’s opinions. At this first meeting, some attendees might be intimidated or nervous, so encouraging everyone to share and creating a space that’s welcoming is important.

Once you have spent time discussing ideas and potential goals, the meeting will eventually draw to a close. Thank everyone for coming, and be sure to remind everyone of the next meeting; you’ll want to send a reminder, too, roughly one week prior to the next date. In the days between meetings, make a list of items to address at the next meeting and follow up with any lingering questions (typically via email).


It may feel like a tedious process, but the outcome is certainly beneficial. If you want to enact change in your community, finding or forming a small group of people who want the same things are great ways to get involved and foster community engagement.

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