By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
It was a project that began six years ago to help homeless young adults in Asbury Park and which finally became a reality this week.
Through the efforts of Covenant House International and Interfaith Neighbors five Asbury Park young men will have a free place to live for 18 months while they attend school or work to save money and afford a place of their own.
Paul McEvily, co-executive director of Interfaith Neighbors, said building the house which has five bedrooms, each with its own bath, 2 half baths, two sets of laundry facilities and an expanded kitchen, was a departure for the organization.
McEvily thanked Shore Point Architects for providing the plans for “such a magnificent home.”
He then called upon Meg Flores, Youth Specialist at Interfaith Neighbors, to come up to the podium where he presented her with a plaque stating that the new home would be called “Meg’s Place” in her honor.
McEvily said without Flores the project may have never been built.
He explained that Flores came to him six years ago and insisted that the organization do something for the city’s young homeless, which then led him to contact Covenant House.
McEvily also thanked Mayor John Moor who was in attendance and the entire council for their support.
Funding for Meg’s Place came from three sources: Monmouth County Freeholders; New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and the city council which allocated some of its Community Development Block Grant funding to the project.
“We hope you continue to support us as we continue the revitalization of the west side,” he said.
A resident of Meg’s Place, Christian Cortez, also spoke telling his story of being lovingly raised by a single mother, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack when he was 19.
“I was left all alone at the age of 19,” he said.
He said Flores helped him get a job at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and a room to rent, but making ends meet was still hard.
Cortez, who had been attending Brookdale Community College, had to leave school.
He said having a place to live for the next year and a half will allow him to go back to school and save money for a place of his own.
Cortez said his dream is to get a degree in developmental psychology.
President of Covenant House International Kevin Ryan said people frequently ask him how God can allow young people to be homeless and hungry.
“I think God would ask of us the same thing,” he said.
He then spoke of Asbury Park’s revival and said Meg’s House is part of that.
Referencing Bruce Springsteen he said, “This is (part of ) the rising of Asbury Park.”