What started out as simple donation drives using Shannon's house as a drop off point for donations in 2018 rapidly spiraled into a much larger, ongoing effort to serve different parts of the community in diverse ways. Through their love of helping others (humans and their pets), and as two women with strong entrepreneurial skills, it organically became the goal to create something larger than themselves. This duo has boundless energy and drive to create compassionate interactions with the most vulnerable people in the local community. Together, they are working to involve members of the community in an inspiring and innovative mission to connect us all in kindness for those in need.
At our very core, The Outreach Connection is about bringing communities together in volunteerism through a common desire to compassionately help those in need. We are a private 501c3 nonprofit corporation, without any state or government funding.
All of our work is funded from private donations of money, goods, and countless hours of volunteer time.
We help people experiencing hardship through our various outreach programs, all of which stem from a deep dedication to offering relief for those in their hardest moments.
At the heart of what we do is the distribution of food and supplies to those in the most vulnerable situations, and programming aimed at assisting individuals to acquire the tools that will provide them with a more stable, successful future. Supplying essential living items such as food, clothing, hygiene supplies and household basics allows money that would otherwise be used for those items to go towards other necessities including heat, utilities and other bills. Providing mentor-ship, connections to other resources, and enrichment classes helps to acquire personal and professional skills for success.
From those experiencing homelessness to those who are struggling in hardship from any number of situations, each situation dictates a different need.
We know that in order for someone’s circumstances to get better tomorrow, they often need help to just get through today. It is our philosophy that those experiencing hardship come from all walks of life and it is our role to interact only with compassion, support, and dignity to get to a better circumstance.
We offer tangible support in the distribution of food, clothes, household goods, hygiene supplies and other essential supplies to those in need. Beyond just the supplies, we strongly believe that caring interactions are the catalyst that allows people to persevere for a brighter future. When those experiencing hardship have to struggle with what bills to pay, how to purchase clothing, dishes, and household goods, it can seem insurmountable. We know our programs can lessen their burden, and allow them to utilize their funds to the best of their ability.
Beyond people, our dedication to support “those in need” extends to the furry members of families. We strive to keep pets with their families through times of hardship. We support our local shelters and rescues as well and we passionately advocate the “adopt don’t shop” message. We funnel any excess supplies to area shelters and rescues so that they can focus more energy on providing critical care for animals in their facility and finding forever homes.
Shannon has been an OSHA authorized trainer and a Construction and Environmental Health and Safety Professional for over 15 years. She also began teaching CPR over 25 years ago. Before becoming a mother, she worked her way from an overnight staff to a group home manager for The Arc Of Morris County and then became a Project Director for Developmental Resources Corporation, overseeing five community group homes. Both organizations are dedicated to compassionately serving developmentally disabled adults. Her dedication and love of animals, children, and community service integrated into her professional work over the past 25 years. She has founded and run two recreational gymnastics centers and an educational wildlife conservation center, which flourished even while they overlapped her career in Safety. She served as the president of the Voorhees High School Music Association for four years and volunteered on countless projects for her children's Boy Scout and school based organizations. It was while travelling to inspect construction sites and conduct safety and health classes throughout all of New Jersey and New York that she began distributing supplies to those in homelessness, and to area animal shelters near the various job sites she worked on. This is where it all truly began. With the support and partnership of her daughter in law Rachel, they both desired to do so much more. This is when the vision for The Outreach Connection was born in late 2018, and incorporated as a 501c3 charity in early 2019.
Rachel completed her degree at Centenary University in Marketing and Business Management. She is driven and experienced far beyond her years, with a deep history of being active in many causes and working hard from a young age. She is an extremely experienced event planner, social media marketing expert, and has an incredible vision for her career as a co-founder of The Outreach Connection. The easy route would have been to quickly get a job in her field using her experience working with animals at care facilities, volunteering, event planning, and her organizational and business skills. The route she chose that is far more challenging, and yet far more rewarding: to be an integral force in the success of The Outreach Connection. She has sat on the board of directors for Pink Heals, Lehigh Valley for 2 years until leaving that position to start this new non-profit venture from the ground up. Currently, she is the Vice President for the Lebanon Township Volunteer Fire Department and heads their fundraising efforts. It is through her dedication to making a difference in the lives of others that she welcomes this chapter for her post graduation career. Her desire to brighten the days of people who are struggling carries into her work with volunteers as well as those that are served through this organization.
Marc Laul has been the Technical Services Director at Sander Mechanical Service for over 30 years. He is presently serving his fifth year as an elected official on the Lebanon Township Committee, two years of which he served as mayor. He also served on the Lebanon Township Planning Board and the Environmental and Open Space Commission. His dedication towards community service started as a life long boy scout who achieved Eagle Scout, and it spanned an eleven year term of service as Cub Master, then Scout Master of Troop 92 In Lebanon Township.
Paula Nicolai’s career of service started as a teacher in special education for over 30 years, with a specialty in teaching the deaf. Paula’s dedication to quality education and youth programming includes serving for 15 years on the Lebanon Township Board of Education. She has been a life long volunteer for various community organizations. She spent ten years as a Girl Scout Leader, six years as a host family for Seeing Eye Puppies, and currently as a Hunterdon Hospice Volunteer in the Youth Art Therapy bereavement program.
Diana Ramsey and her husband Phil Gartlan moved to Califon four years ago from Morristown where she lived for nearly thirty years. Her daughter and three children live locally and her step-daughter is in Collingswood, NJ with her three children, her younger daughter, Megan is deceased. Diana is a teacher-educator who has taught at the graduate level across the United States and in Canada. Her teaching career started in Somerville and Lebanon Borough. She co-founded an educational design and consulting company, Regional Training Center, working in partnership with The College of New Jersey and LaSalle University to offer courses more locally, and is now the sole owner. Diana started with The Outreach Connection as a volunteer and has been appointed to their Board of Directors.