By DENISE HERSCHEL
The Madonna House in Neptune has been serving local communities and beyond for the past 27 years providing children’s clothing, formula, diapers, bedding, toiletries, and other necessities to those in need. But now after several decades of tireless giving, the non-profit organization may have to close it’s doors.
Financial constraints have forced its founder and director, Rebecca Blonski, to possibly consider closing the Madonna House in the foreseeable future.
According to Blonski, the Madonna House has three privately held mortgages for their property.
“Our total amount is approximately $223,000.00. One of the mortgages is a balloon mortgage of $123,582.70 which was due September 1, 2014. Of course we don’t have the money so the holder of the mortgage is giving us a two-year extension which is so kind of the holder. But we are very poor, serving the poor barely earning enough money to pay our monthly bills, certainly not having the balance of the mortgage,” she said.
Blonski continued, “We cannot get a mortgage from a bank because we don’t have a regular source of income, only earning what we make in our thrift store, what I can sell and monetary donations made by various kind and thoughtful people. The total amount of money that we earned last year was less than our total expenses for the year. Last year we brought in $80,000 and our expenses were $83,000. And we also have no paid staff.”
Blonski said that there are people who are “confused” as to why she doesn’t take government funding because almost all agencies do.
“The answer is – there are quite a few people walking around who are alive because their mothers asked me about abortion. I do not try to sway any mother regarding her decisions however because we don’t take government funding I am free to tell the truth about abortion. I just present the facts and then mothers can decide on their own…If I took government funding my lips would be sealed.”
Throughout the years Blonski’s level of devotion has not waned and it is in fact stronger than ever as her mission of hope has remained steadfast in helping the less fortunate. It is because of her own life experience with the impoverished that prompted Blonski to reach out and provide to those struggling.
“Our primary purpose is to serve infants, children, and women at no cost. We serve those who are homeless to children of families faced with temporary financial difficulty. Madonna House is not a crutch but another valuable resource allowing parents or guardians to better care for their children in temporary, emergency or crisis situations. Since 1987 we have helped literally thousands of children,” she said.
Blonski began operating the Madonna House in the spring of 1987 when she did a clothing drive for Birthright in Trenton, New Jersey. She began contacting local hospitals and social service agencies with the opening of her small thrift store which eventually included and outgrew a church basement and garage. In 1992 the Madonna House Inc., a religious association was incorporated.
“My husband John and I have adopted nine children and we have two biological children. One of my children, Joshua, who I adopted from Catholic Charities, was given to me and I wanted to do something. I started praying for what I could do to help. I adopted him with no clothing except the one diaper he ahd on, a bottle and an undershirt,” she said.
More than 25 years later and the Madonna House has served 3,000 to 5,000 children on a yearly basis. The greatest need falls within the Asbury Park/Neptune area and with the approaching holidays and cold weather the Madonna House and it’s approximately 20 volunteers find that this hectic time of year is also one of their most needy.
“We have always been busy, busy but years ago we seemed to be in better economic times. We have no paid staff whatsoever and we are always in need of volunteers. We serve anyone, anywhere. We don’t turn people away. If we have a referral we are happy to help,” she said.
Madonna House clients must have referrals from outside agencies and everything is free of charge. Referrals are made for a crisis such as homelessness.
The Madonna House has been at it’s current location, Route 35 and 1401 Seventh Avenue, for the past 16 years. But Blonski said “that if we can’t pay the mortgage in two years I will have to close.”
But Blonski added that there is one bright spot on the horizon for the Madonna House. Deputy Mayor Mary Beth Jahn has announced that the Madonna House is the beneficiary for the 2015 Mayor’s Charity Ball scheduled for April 17, 2015.
“The Madonna House is a Neptune organization that has helped many Neptune residents and it is a great honor to have them agree to become the recipient of the proceeds of my Mayor’s Ball. Hopefully we can help them with their mission of assisting children in need,” Jahn said.
“Mary Beth approached me and she was so warm and humble. We are thrilled that she choose us and we are so grateful,” Blonski said.
“We want to keep the Madonna House’s doors open. We have so many families that need our help. Our whole purpose is to serve those in need,” Blonski said.
For more information about the Madonna House visit their website at www.themadonnahouseinc.org or call 732-775-1140.