June 02, 2010
For Immediate Release

Contact: Julia Bey Ahmet 973-463-9600, ext. 303

Community Hope Celebrates 25th Anniversary

NJ Senator Anthony Bucco (right) presents an official resolution from the State Legislature commemorating Community Hope’s 25th Anniversary to Carmela Lunt, Founding President, and CEO J. Michael Armstrong
Parsippany, NJ – Community Hope today celebrated its 25th anniversary with more than 100 friends and supporters at a reception at the Westin Governor Morris Hotel. The nonprofit organization began in 1985 with a single community residence to serve five young adults with mental illness. Today, Community Hope has grown into one of the area’s largest providers of housing-plus-services for homeless veterans and individuals recovering from mental illness and substance abuse. The agency serves 300 individuals a day in its residential recovery programs.

Officiating at the June 2nd event was State Senator Anthony Bucco, who – as the former Mayor of Boonton – supported the development of one of Community Hope’s earliest residences in 1986. Also in attendance was U.S. Congressman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, who – as a State Legislator – obtained a $75,000 grant that helped fund Community Hope's first residence in Dover. Congressman Frelinghuysen and Senator Bucco have also been crucial supporters in the development of the agency’s programs for veterans.

Senator Bucco recognized several of the agency’s founding board members at the reception with certificates of appreciation for their efforts in establishing Community Hope in 1985.

“We were attempting to resolve a pressing social need in the early nineteen-eighties when our group of family members were sitting around our kitchen tables and planning the opening of our first residence,” said Founding President Carmela Lunt. “Never did we imagine that we would someday be serving 300 individuals a day and making such a significant impact on the lives of so many.”

Formerly known as Project Hope, the agency was founded by family members and mental health professionals seeking a safe haven in the community where young adults could continue their recovery from mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse. Since then, the agency has directed its services to address the needs of veterans who are homeless as a result of mental illness and substance abuse. The Hope for Veterans Transitional Housing Program, based in Bernards Township in Somerset County, opened in 2004 as the largest and most comprehensive program for homeless veterans in New Jersey. More than 400 former servicemen and women have benefitted from its housing-plus-services model in the past five years.

Community Hope‘s programs include Hope for Veterans with 95 beds for homeless veterans; the CHOICE independent-living program for 70 adults; and various other programs providing 125 individuals with daily support in their recovery.

Among its other achievements are:

  • In recognition of its service to the community, Community Hope was named the Outstanding Provider of the Year in 2009 by the NJ Association of Mental Health Agencies (NJAMHA). In addition, the organization’s programs, founder and staff members have also won numerous awards and been cited as leaders in their fields.

  • Community Hope established the first Supportive Housing Program in Morris County in 1999. Presently, the CHOICE Independent Living Program provides affordable housing and services for 70 disabled adults.

  • In collaboration with Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare (CBH Care), Community Hope developed both the CHAMP and Partnership Programs adjacent to the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital campus to help patients rebuild their lives after a long hospitalization. Those programs serve 70 former patients and have become a model for sucessful de-institutionalization and reintegration.

Among its continued plans to address the needs of the homeless and disabled, Community Hope recently unveiled proposed plans for Valley Brook Village. Together with its partners EA Fish Development and Veterans Inc., Community Hope has received conditional approval to develop a 90-unit village on a vacant parcel of land at the Lyons VA campus. The development will be among the first permanent housing developments in New Jersey for homeless veterans.

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Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen with President and Founder Carmela Lunt
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Board Member Kathleen Day receives a Resolution honoring her family’s role in the founding of Community Hope from Senator Bucco

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Keynote speaker Teri Belske (center) with  Community Hope staff is honored for her 25 years of advocacy work on behalf of individuals with mental illness

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Mary Jo Buchanan, Morris County Director of Human Services, (left) with Sussex County Freeholder Susan Zellman

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Congressman Frelinghuysen with (from right) Ray and Founding Vice President Eileen Griffith, CEO Michael Armstrong and President Carmela Lunt

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From left, Board Member Helen Wolfmeyer; Julia Wimmer of the Morris County Mental Health Association; Laurie Becker, Morris County Mental Health Administrator, and Sabine VonAulock, Director of Morris County Community Development

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Board Member Marilyn Lukach (second from left) with family and guests

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Our partners and friends from Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare, led by Executive Director Pete Scerbo (right) with CEO Michael Armstrong (left) and Carmine DEO, Community Hope COO and Vice President of Clinical Services (second from left)