CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children of Monmouth County helps watch over children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and advocates for their best interests in court. After 30 hours of intensive training, CASA volunteers ensure that each child’s voice is present in court proceedings, with the hope of securing safe, permanent homes where children can grow and thrive. Each advocate champions one child or group of siblings, researching the case, interviewing parties relevant to it, and providing valuable information to the court so judges can make the best decisions concerning the child’s future. Volunteers work with the child for as long as necessary—from a few months to a few years—until he or she is placed in a safe home.
Since its inception, all the plays that Two River Theater has produced have shared a common thread: capturing the human experience. Bridging the gap between players and audiences, their intimate performances have made them a New Jersey treasure, leading to three Theater of the Year awards from the New Jersey Theater Alliance and The Star Ledger, as well as designation as a Major Impact Organization by the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. Giving them space to play along the way are two theaters: the 350-seat Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater, where six-play subscription seasons and holiday shows unfold, and the 99-seat black box Marion Huber Theater.
In 1976, Curtis Colby befriended a boy named Joey, whose father had died. Curtis spent time mentoring him as a volunteer and discovered Joey's younger brother also was in need of a strong male role model. This connection was the original impetus for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties, which connects youth with responsible and positive adult mentors through community- and school-based programs to help change their lives for the better. Youth aged 6–14 who have one-on-one relationships with mentors have reported increased self-esteem, an improved ability to express their feelings, and better attitudes toward school.
During Enable’s day program, five days of structured activities engage individuals with disabilities, allowing them to volunteer in their local community, interact socially with their peers and other adults, and improve their physical and cognitive well-being. Participants volunteer with Meals on Wheels and visit veterans, or learn new skills such as art, pet therapy, and horticulture. The day program empowers people with disabilities to tackle their goals and personal interests while building a recreational community in a structured environment.
Helmed by lifelong artist Cindy Laliwala, The Painter's Loft unleashes children's and adults' inner creativity through welcoming workshops for all skill levels. Adult sessions allow guests to bring drinks and snacks, encouraging guests to socialize while they learn to paint a special themed picture. Children's classes, meanwhile, begin with lessons that focus on drawing and painting skills and advance to cover an array of art forms, teaching kids how to create watercolor paintings, carvings, and even mosaics.
The Summit Area YMCA with its Berkeley Heights location and the Madison Area YMCA serve as community gathering places where principles are put into practice. The cause-driven organizations focus on healthy living, social responsibility, and youth development. The Learning Circle (Summit Area) and the F.M. Kirby Children's Center (Madison Area) take care of babies as young as 6 weeks old, and babysitting services afford parents the opportunity to explore the Y while childcare professionals watch little ones.
The Y also aims to keep kids and their families healthy with sports leagues, youth sports clinics, group fitness classes, and a fitness center equipped with a climbing wall, Olympic free-weight room, and a pool. All of the Y’s programs are accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay or perform a back handspring.