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You gave, it helped: The IHN Afterschool Program

The IHN Afterschool Program
Sally Muscarella, Interim Alleluia Fund Coordinator

In 2012 the Alleluia Fund granted $5,500 to the Afterschool Program of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County. Recently Ellen Donker, a Development Associate with IHN, shared the following stories about the Afterschool Program, saying, "The Alleluia Fund contributed greatly to its success."

The Rene family

Moses came to the IHN Afterschool Program last year full of smiles. A friendly child, always ready to make friends, Moses was having a tough time in school. Sensing that he wasn’t working to his potential, our Afterschool team tested him to determine what was holding him back. Armed with the results, IHN Social Worker Brenda Myrick was able to advocate for him at his school so he could start receiving the services he needed to succeed.

When asked about the difference the Afterschool Program has made for Moses, his mom Judith just gushes. “I thank God for IHN and Miss Brenda. The Afterschool Program has helped Moses so much. Last year he wasn’t reading at all but now he’s doing so much better in school. I’m so happy!”

We couldn’t be happier, either. Sometimes it just takes having someone in your corner willing to use his or her skills to improve a situation. For Judith, she not only has peace of mind regarding Moses’ academics (thanks to Miss Brenda!) but also newfound confidence conversing with the school about his ongoing needs.

In 2012, IHN was able to provide Afterschool Tutoring and Enrichment to 31 children and summer camp for 35 children. 20 volunteers tutored, led crafts, helped with field trips, planned parties, and more. Our Parents Program helped moms and dads learn to communicate with their children’s school and advocate for them when needed.

Donna Zaros, IHN Afterschool Program volunteer

Donna Zaros, IHN Afterschool Program volunteer“As a coordinator at my church, IHN has been near and dear to my heart for a long time now. I always enjoy getting to know the families, but that’s only two weeks out of the year. I wanted to get more involved. So when I heard that IHN needed volunteers for their Afterschool Program, I jumped at the chance.

“Several days a week I come in and help the children with their homework. About fourteen attend. My favorite moment is seeing a child, like Moses, move from feeling overwhelmed by an assignment to finishing it with a sense of accomplishment and knowing they can do the work. But overall, I just love being with the kids: finding out how their day went, laughing at their silly jokes and antics, and helping them where I can.

“Volunteering with the Afterschool program lets me see the positive impact IHN is having on the children over time. Just listening to the buzz in the room, I hear learning going on – I love that! And I can honestly say that I never regret having made the commitment to volunteer. I just feel so much joy being with the kids and learning from them.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Alleluia Fund has made grants to 38 organizations totaling $398,000. With a gift to the Alleluia Fund in 2013, you can help continue to make a difference in our diocese by supporting outreach and mission.

Questions? Please contact Sally Muscarella, Interim Alleluia Fund Coordinator, or visit