The Center in Asbury Park, Inc. began as a small storefront operation on Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park in June 1992. The mission was understood by the group of volunteers that began the venture to be support services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Monmouth County. We knew that most of the folks were getting good treatment through Jersey Shore Medical Center but also knew that some of the supplemental services that could make a difference in their lives were lacking; transportation assistance, home visits, hygiene products, and other basic needs that had to be met. In addition we dreamt that The Center would be a place where people could find someone to talk to, someone to understand, someone to hug them and show them some love. The Center in Asbury Park was incorporated and was classified as a 501(c)(3) organization and began living its Mission - serving folks living with HIV/AIDS.
It wasn’t long before the picture came into clearer focus. Most of the folks were poorer than we realized. AIDS was only a part of the problem. Getting decent food and decent housing would be vital for them to be able to live with this disease. And so The Center began to subsidize rents, help with security payments, provide take- home meals, provide vouchers for laundries and a number of other things that would help improve people’s quality of life.
The Center outgrew the small storefront and expanding through the next two storefronts. In 1999 we moved to a much bigger site on Third Avenue, Asbury Park making it possible more than ever to be a place for the folks to relax and experience fellowship.
After demolishing the building on Third Avenue in 2005 The Center is now housed in a new expanded building at the Third Avenue address. We are now not only able to serve the Center Folk better but with Center House we are also able to house twenty-five single adults living with AIDS. Center House is a “supportive housing” project providing three meals a day, on-site case management, security and other kinds of support to help people stabilize themselves and be healthy.
The Center in Asbury Park has serve thousands and brought stability and love to many because of the wonderful support of the community, the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and the financial help of friends.
In the first sixth months of 2011 our services included:
- Over 7,000 volunteer hours made things happen
- Over 983 hygiene bags were given out
- $65,000 was spent to help with rent and security
- $2,000 helped folks with emergency pharmaceutical help
- Over $12,000 was spent to help with utility bills
- Over 5,000 Frozen Meals to go were provided were provided
- Over 4,000 hot lunches were served.
Fr. Bob Kaeding
Executive Director, The Center in Asbury Park, Inc