Mom now Director at United Passaic Organization

PASSAIC – When Janelle Hall was struggling and doing all she could to keep her four children housed and fed, the United Passaic Organization was there to help with a “helping hand”.

She is now returning the favor as the new executive director of the 41-year-old community service organization.

With the help of social service agencies such as the United Passaic Organization, Hall was able to rise above the struggle.

In 2011, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from William Paterson University. Two years later, she obtained a master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and most recently, she obtained a doctorate from Walden University.

She is now back at the service agency to return the favor and help others overcome their difficulties.

“I feel like I have so much equity in this agency because of my allegiance to serving this community,” Hall said. “I moved to Passaic when I was young and grew up in this town and a product of the school system here. I know the community and how to get around and operate in the town of Passaic.

At the helm, she plans to help the United Passaic Organization grow and stay relevant through rebranding of its services.

It’s necessary, Hall said. She wants to convey the message that the organization is about giving residents a helping hand and not just handouts.

“You can use these services as a springboard and persevere. I used that same system to become self-sufficient,” she said. “I wanted to use my life experiences as an example that you can use the resources around you to succeed in the face of setbacks.”

She knows what it is. She was broke and stuck in a dead-end job. Things got really tough living in transitional housing and I almost became homeless.

“I knew I had to do something,” Hall said. “I went back to school.”

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The future

The rebranding of United Passaic Organization aims to ensure that all area residents are aware of its services, warm referrals and information from a reliable, trusted and familiar source.

She revamped the organization’s logo adding more color to reflect the community and promote self-sufficiency from a global and multicultural perspective.

“We wanted to create a logo that supports a sense of rebirth towards self-sufficiency. A logo that people would see and know represents the UPO’s community action promise,” Hall said. “We know the importance of providing a community hub, because it’s not always easy to get information. We want to be a place where information is shared and accessible.”

With help from Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and the Community Corporation of Newark, the Passaic organization plans to launch a full-service food pantry on May 24.

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The food pantry will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays and will host food education workshops on nutrition, healthy meals for large families and supermarket tours.

Hall is excited about the inclusion of the Healthy Forward program in the pantry, in which he is partnering with Mount Pilgrim and the Community Corporation of Newark, as well as Ujamaa Mobile Cafe, which will provide healthy comfort foods from restaurant quality.

This ties in well with a long-standing Mount Pilgrim tradition. For 38 years, Mount Pilgrim has provided Saturday breakfasts to those in need, said Mount Pilgrim pastor Pamela Denise Sallie.

The addition of the Mobile Cafe, which is essentially a food truck, will allow them to befriend restaurants across the city to provide nutritious food to food insecure people.

“The goal here is to provide healthy, well-prepared foods so people can lead healthy lives,” Sallie said.

The truck is expected to start serving food in mid-June.

The United Passaic Organization also hosts educational events focusing on health care and healthy lifestyles, financial literacy, home buying and tenants rights, court expungement, disaster preparedness. emergency, domestic violence, technology for the elderly and Google suite training.

UPO is at 1 Howe Ave., Suite 301. It serves 300-500 people each month. Anyone interested in the services can contact [email protected]

Matt Fagan is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @fagan_nj

Aubrey L. Morgan