Mercer Street Friends(MSF) is a Quaker-affiliated, nonsectarian 501(c)(3) organization that honors the equality of all people and strives for a just, prosperous, and peaceful society for all. The organization describes its mission as “nourishing minds and bodies; empowering families and communities.”
“MSF believes that our mission promotes skill development that enables people to become more self-sufficient,” says Dr. Anniesha D. Walker, Deputy Executive Director of MSF.
MSF is true to its mission and its values, demonstrating arduous performance in services including Career & Workforce Development, a food bank, a Parent Child Center, a Preschool and two Community Schools.
Working for Mercer County, MSF offers many services tailored to people of all ages and needs.
Dr. Walker says that MSF also “acknowledges that poverty is not only generational, but wholeheartedly believes that education is the surest way to break its barriers.” Thus, the Career & Workforce Development program works with adult residents of New Jersey, ages 16 and older, that are looking to obtain a New Jersey high school diploma, career guidance, or those who need assistance in renewing math, reading, and writing skills to prepare to for entrance exams for career training or to further their education.
Through one-on-one instruction with a teacher or volunteer instructors, these young adults complete programs that follows New Jersey Common Core Standards and College & Career Readiness Standards. The workforce program helps adults receiving public assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to enhance and improve their job readiness skills. Dr. Walker adds that, “the majority of our constituents have experienced some form of trauma, thus, all of the services offered support basic nutritional, mental and emotional needs. Our ultimate goal is that we are a part of a resilient and well-resourced community.”
The Parent Child Center, located at 222 North Hermitage Ave., works with parents who live in the city of Trenton and are pregnant or have a child that is five years old or younger. The Center provides a range of services, among them are emergency food/personal care items, community service linkages, developmental screening for young children, stress management workshops, screening and group support for pregnant/parent women at risk of postpartum depression, and parenting education groups.
According to their website, “The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank channels 2.7 million pounds of food and groceries annually to a network of 80 local food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, meal sites, schools, senior and disabled programs and low-income housing sites.” They reach over 30,000 people through their food bank.
Mercer Street Friends Preschool provides free, high-quality early childhood education to 90 children, ages 3-5, who qualify for the program as residents of Trenton. Certified teachers deliver an innovative, tested and proven curriculum in a safe, caring, and nurturing environment. Located at 1201 West State St., the preschool emphasizes cognitive, social, and emotional growth.
Dr. Walker says, “While Mercer Street Friends has community partners throughout the county for distributing food, it’s primary service locations are in Trenton City. Each Impact Center has its designated location, however, staff are well knowledgeable about interagency services and can assist interested stakeholders in accessing the appropriate resources.”
MSF is working hard for Mercer County and for the city of Trenton but volunteers are always welcome. Dr. Walker says that MSF is currently looking for volunteers to support a variety of services such as reading to preschool students, tutoring adult learners seeking to achieve their high school diploma, mentoring school age youth, and food bank operations among other needs.
For more information on Mercer Street friends visit their website at https://mercerstreetfriends.org/