By Jennifer Vazquez
Family Service Bureau of Newark, a comprehensive mental and behavioral center, has found a new home in Kearny. The grand opening of their new Kearny office, which took place on Monday, Aug. 27, at 379 Kearny Ave., was attended by dozens who showed up to lend their support to this neighborhood staple.
Though FSB has had a presence in Kearny for the past couple of decades, the move to a bigger office (they were previously located at 391 Kearny Ave.) is only a sign of the promising new goals and expectations the organization has for its programs -with hopes of further addressing the needs of those individuals that seek their counsel and help.
“We’ve just moved to this new location because in the last two years our service numbers have gone up by 60 percent,” explained Arti Kakkar, the executive director for Family Service Bureau. “This is mainly because we have had more staff that we put out there to do youth services.”
The youth services are still in their initial stages, yet the response to these new programs has received a positive welcome.
“We have been working with the mentally and behaviorally ill for a number of years but we didn’t have a lot of youth services,” Kakkar said. “Now we are working with families and kids and getting a lot of programs out of this office –which is why we’ve moved to this new place.”
The new services include counseling for self-esteem related issues, and fire-setters evaluation and treatment (an arson prevention program), among other issues.
One of FSB’s most recent programs is that for young fathers – with a curriculum that focuses on how young fathers can be a positive and participating figure in their young children’s life.
Not only was the staff of FSB present at the grand opening but Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos was also there.
“I certainly have so much respect for this organization and what they do on a daily basis,” Santos said. “It’s tremendous what (FSB does) for our community…we succeed through organizations like this.”
Those present witnessed the testimony of a client whose life is taking a positive turn through the hard work and dedication of the team of FSB workers.
“I’m a Vietnam Vet and worked in Wall Street –both very stressful jobs,” FSB client Alberto “Al” Monllor, 57, said. “My therapist, Denisha King, is one of the best people I ever met…I don’t think I would be alive if it weren’t for her.”
Monllor’s appreciation for FSB and King is sincere and heartfelt.
“She’s my life,” he continued. “She’s very personable. She really cares. Sometimes she calls me to make sure I’m ok if I leave (our session) sad or upset…she gives me the tools I need.”
Treating clients with respect is FSB’s forte, according to Mollner.
“They don’t make you feel strange,” Mollner said.
The services offered at Family Service Bureau of Newark range from behavioral health counseling to preventative behavior programs and workshops. FSB is staffed by a range of licensed clinicians, many who are bilingual –allowing the organization to provide services in various languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Cantonese, according to Kattar.
Even though their main offices are located in Newark, FSB is committed to offering the same workshops, assistance and guidance to clients at all of their locations. The future seems more than promising for this organization. FSB is consistently focusing on bettering themselves by providing an even wider range of services to better suit their clients’ needs.
“Our main goal is to do substance abuse services out of this office,” Kakkar said.
Aside from FSB being fully dedicated to fostering and advocating the well being of their clients (they prefer the term over “patients”) but, they also assist students by serving as a training institute where current post-graduate students interns train in a number of fields including “social work, counseling and family therapy programs,” according to Kakkar.
Upwards of forty interns form part of FSB, putting their theoretical knowledge to use while gaining valuable experience beyond the classroom. Kakkar is quick to point out that, whereas, initially most of the interns came from Rutgers or Seton Hall University, in recent times the interns come from a variety of colleges and universities, including some that originate online.
Family Service Bureau caters to all who live and work in the greater Essex and West Hudson counties, according to Kakkar.
FSB is affiliated with New Community Corporation –“the largest and most comprehensive community development organization” in the nation, founded in 1968 by Monsignor William Linder, according to the official NCC website. This allows FSB to have an extended network of services, permitting them to guide their clients to other services, programs and even schooling.
According to the official Family Service Bureau of Newark website, the mission of FSB is to “preserve, support, strengthen and enrich family life through prevention and community education programs that assist families, children and individuals to realize their full potential.”
FSB is currently licensed by the New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health. Kattar asserts that the organization is now aiming to get licensed by the Division of Addiction Services.
Kakkar started with FSB as an intern and eventually became a staff member. She was promoted to Director approximately two years ago. It is in this latest role that she oversees all aspects of the organization including counseling, designing workshops and programs to benefit the clients. Her specialty is child abuse, assessment and treatment and trauma work with young females (which includes rape and domestic violence). She is also an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University –where she received her Ed. S in Family Therapy.
If you would like more information on FSB, including the office hours for their locations, visit www.newcommunity.org or call (201) 246-8077 to reach the Kearny office or (973) 412- 2056 for their Newark office.