Finds Hope after Job LossNot long ago, Sharon Thompkins was a stable, employed, administrative assistant with more than two decades of experience working for the Newark Housing Authority. Then she was laid off, six months before she would have qualified for her pension.

Thompkins was able to collect unemployment benefits for one year, but when that ran out, she was unable to keep up with her rent and lost her apartment. For her, life couldn’t get any worse.

 “I was alone and severely depressed with no where to go,” Thompkins said, explaining she ended up living out of her car for several months.

 Homeless and “helpless,” Thompkins said she experienced an “emotional meltdown” because she had never been out of work before. She turned to New Community’s Family Resource Success Center in Newark, located in the Pathmark Shopping Center on Bergen Street, for help. The center is a one-stop information and referral source that served more than 6,800 individuals last year.

“I was seeking information on social services, homeless assistance or whatever I could find. They were a safe haven for me. They have been great in referring me to programs to help better my life,” said Thompkins, 53, the mother of two grown children.

Not only was Thompkins referred for counseling to University Behavioral Health Care, formerly part of UMDNJ but now under the Rutgers umbrella,  she was also able to sign up for health care through the new Affordable Care Act. The center also assisted her in receiving food stamps.

 In recent months, Thompkins has been staying with relatives. But she later found an apartment using a housing voucher supplied by another non-profit, Project Life, which supports Essex County residents struggling with mental health issues.

“I’m a true Newarker in my heart and wanted to stay in the area,” Thompkins said. “I’m just proud that there are organizations like New Community to direct you to resources and help you through the troubled times.”

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