I am writing to acknowledge the closing last month of a 70 year old nonprofit, Family Guidance Center Corporation, due to ongoing funding challenges.
Founded in 1948 as the Child Guidance Center of Mercer County, the organization grew from its roots in Trenton outward, expanding first to Princeton, and then into all other Mercer County communities. The agency became Family Guidance Center Corporation after a nonprofit merger in 1993 with Family Service of Trenton- Hopewell Valley (and retained that name after another merger in 2008 with Family and Children’s Services of Princeton.)
I had the great, good fortune to work at the organization starting in 1975 as a social work graduate intern, was hired next as a staff social worker, promoted to supervisor, and then appointed as Executive Director, a position I served for 27 years, from 1986 to 2103, when I left to join the faculty at the Rutgers University School of Social Work.
The organization was staffed at its high point by over 100 dedicated professionals in mental health, addictions, special education, AIDS/HIV services, housing/financial counseling, human resources, finance and development, and governed by volunteer trustees that were comprised of Mercer County’s very best philanthropic talent, persons who stewarded the organization through mostly calm and, growingly, stormy funding years. Clients numbered as many as 5,000 per year in the agency’s busiest times; staff and board worked together to obtain foundation grants, public and private service contracts, United Way funding, corporate and private donations and, where possible, collect fees that client and families could afford to pay. The agency was a central part of the health and social service safety net in our county and its staff and board went many extra miles to provide high quality, compassionate care, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. The agency was fully licensed and accredited by county, state and national entities, and Family Guidance Center maintained a reputation for delivering excellent, ethical service.
I want to thank the literally hundreds of board and staff whom I had the privilege to serve with, and encourage them to recall with joy and gratitude their work and their contributions to the well-being of so many families who sought and found help at Family Guidance Center.
— Mark Lamar
Lamar, a past director of Family Guidance Center, is an associate professor at Rutgers’ School of Social Work.