Founded in 1803, the Newark Charitable Society (now called the Newark Day Center) is one of the oldest social service agencies in the United States. After a plea from the pulpit of Old First Presbyterian Church, “Your neighbor is suffering, therefore devise some means to assist,” a group of Newark women met in the home of Rachel Bradford Boudinot and proposed “to devise some means for caring for the poor and distressed persons in the village.” Each member paid one dollar in annual dues, they were organized into officers and managers, and the Society established its criteria for distributing help. The plan of the Society was to help people help themselves. Food and clothing were given in emergencies. However, employment was found whenever possible or women were taught new skills that could help them earn a living. As times changed and Newark Female Charitable Society grew, it continued to address the problems of the community through programs for widows, single mothers, girls, boys, and the elderly.
“Surely the women of 1803 would be pleasantly surprised by the changes over the long years. The snowball they started rolling in the age of Jefferson has grown larger, and changed shape…however times have changed, Newarkers of 1803 and 1903 would recognize the mission as the same: to lift up the hearts of the neglected, to bring them inot a healthier, happier, less depressing life, by whatever means can be found at hand. Lives have been saved in the past…and with the continuing help of our citizens, many more will continue to be saved.” –Joseph Ricciardi (from “The Newark Day Center: An Old tree bearing fruit”)
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