Cranford has a rich history of community service. Looking at the story of Cranford Family Care’s early beginnings, you will see an example of how citizens working as individuals and also working in groups across organizations, emerged as leaders in community service. These early leaders and volunteers stepped up to define the problems of the day and set about addressing them with conviction and sustained energy.
Cranford Family Care provides assistance to families in need and is located at 61 Myrtle Street, Cranford, NJ 07016. An article appeared in 1986 in the Cranford Chronicle on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the organization.
Project Home, founded in 1988, assists families who are in danger of losing their homes or apartments due to crisis situations; their mission as a 501(C)( 3) non-profit organization is to raise funds which are distributed by Cranford Family Care, so that families can remain in our community despite difficult circumstances.
Cranford Family Care’s beginnings as Cranford Welfare Association
Read the original text of Cranford Welfare Association History – March 22, 1976
The text of the following article was provided to CranfordHistory.org by the Trustees of the Cranford Family Care organization in June of 2012.
CRANFORD WELFARE ASSOCIATION – A Part of the Past and A Hope for the Future.
In the 1930’s the early years of the “Great Depression”, members of the Cranford Junior Service League formed a committee to relieve local families in need of medical, subsistence or financial help and counselling. This in turn developed into a Committee for Central Relief which soon found that the demands made upon it were becoming of such magnitude as to require the services of a full time qualified director.
Accordingly, during the spring and summer of 1936, the Cranford Junior Service League consulted and combined with Trinity Episcopal Church, the Rev. Frank Sherlock, Rector, the Rotary Club and other interested citizens to organize and found the Cranford Welfare Association to coordinate welfare work in the community.
Operations began October 1,1936, with George H. Bates as the association’s first president. Other founding directors included Carl Mason, G.K.Warner and Mrs. Harold Millard. Mrs. Carrie C. Grady was employed as the executive secretary and a drive for funds was successfully conducted.
The Junior Service League accepted a sponsorship role and soon after established the Jumble Store whose profits contribute subtantially to the income of the Welfare Association. Since the Service League merged with the Junior League of Elizabeth in 1964, the Jumble store has continued to make donations to the CWA for general relief.
The primary objective of the association are short term welfare help, follow up and supplementary assistance counseling, guidance and referral to applicable state, county or town agencies, all designed to return disadvantaged families to self-sufficiency. The Welfare Association is now also supported by the Township of Cranford and does considerable referral work for the town. The bulk of its income, however, is derived from the United Way, Jumble store and voluntary contributions. Thus, as a private organization, the executive secretary can answer problems and emergencies immediately. The financial aid given by the agency goes principally to those in need who are not eligible for care by public agencies, but nonetheless need special help which the agencies cannot provide under the law.
Upon the retirement of the first executive secretary, Mrs. Grady in 1952, Mrs. Ruth T. Lennox succeeded to the post and continued in that capacity for 20 years, less one, during which time these duties were handled by Mrs. Harry Hinebauch. In 1967 Mrs. Lennox was selected by the Cranford Neighborhood Council for one of its first “Good Neighbor” awards honoring “her years of work, patience and understanding with the people of Cranford”. Perhaps her outstanding contribution was the distribution of clothing, shoes, food and furniture after the disastrous Elise Street fire in January 1967 followed by an active part in the relocation of families.
When Mrs. Lennox returned to her native Iowa in July of 1972, Mrs. Marion Whitty of Scotch Plains became the executive director and she in turn was succeeded in August 1973 by Mrs. Edna Hamilton who continues today in this important capacity.
The activities of the Welfare Association are many and varied. A summer camping program for children of less fortunate families is conducted with the cooperation of the Salvation Army Camp, Camp Union, Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys, Camp Sl1deavor, Camp Tecumseh, Girl Scout Camp, YMCA Day Camp and others. For many years before it was deeded to the township as Cranford West, the Cranford Boys Camp participated actively.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas, food baskets are prepared, stockings filled, toys, gifts and fruit distributed; all with the generous coordination of civic, church, scout and school organizations. Health care particularly for children and senior citizens is provided with the cooperation of local doctors, dentists and hospitals. Several organizations provide free motor corps services.
The Department of Public Welfare assists with money for milk and shoes, the Lions Club with eye care and the Junior League with monthly donations. The Needle Work Guild Ingathering donates hundreds of items of new clothing annually. Other service groups as well as churches and individuals make donations of cash, clothing, food and canned goods.
Over the years many Cranford citizens have contributed their time as members and directors of the association. The board is composed of 18 directors elected in groups of six per year to serve for a three-year period. This board is augmented by appointed representatives of 21 local organizations who are invited to attend board meetings and may take part in all discussions but are not entitled to vote.
The officers of the Cranford Welfare Association for 1975-76 in addition to Mrs. Hamilton, the salaried executive director, are Mr. John Oathout, President, Mrs. Leona McCarthy, Vice President, Mr. George Ross, Treasurer, Mrs. Edna Anderson, Asst. Treas., Mrs. Reggie Bleemer, Recording Secretary, Mrs. Nancy VanWhy, Corresponding Secretary and Mr, Henry M. Slauson, Historian.
Other board members are: Howard Bostock, Mrs. Pat Carroll. Carl Zimmermann, Jeanne Thornton, Richard Hurley, Jr. Malcomlm Pringle, Robert Risberg, Channing Rudd, Jennie Wilson, Sally Holden, Lillian Jones and Dr. Deborah Wolfe.
For the year 1975, expenditures totaled $22,381.00 of which $13,103.00 was spent for administration and counselling and $9,278.00 for financial aid to clients. A memorial fund to the memory of Mrs. Carrie C. Grady contributes to summer camperships and the Charles W. Tripp. fund to general operations.
The Cranford Welfare Association reflects with pride on its contributions to the betterment of those variously disadvantaged 1n our community. With forty years of accomp11ishment behind us, we earnestly solicit the continued cooperation and interest of the citizens and organizations of Cranford. We are proud of our past and and look forward to future service as we salute the 200th birthday of our great U.S .A.
(March 22, 1976)