Program Director, Family Promise of Monmouth County/Lunch Break
When you meet Family Promise of Monmouth County Program Director
Lenore Gibson, you feel as if you’ve known her for years. This dynamic
32-year-old woman is the epitome of an achiever. Born into an
extremely dysfunctional family – Mom and Dad were substance abusers –
Lenore could have been a statistic – homeless, addicted to drugs and
living a life on the streets. However, by her own sheer will and
through intervention from family and professional mentors, Lenore beat
the odds, graduating from Rowan University with a degree in
Communications, to become the driving hand of Family Promise, an
incorporated program of the non-profit resource center Lunch Break of
Red Bank. Family Promise helps homeless families with temporary
housing – something Lenore has experienced first-hand multiple times –
as well as receive family counseling, find employment, establish their
own savings and eventually become self-sufficient. With assistance
from Family Promise, many of her clients eventually have become
homeowners — the ultimate achievement for a once-homeless,
financially- and food-insecure family.
Lenore herself was a victim of a transient household with her 3
older brothers – at first living with her single mother, then with
family members and in foster care, after which she was forced into
homelessness. But Lenore would not let that stop her from finishing
her degree from Rowan University in 2015., Fast-forward to 2022,
Lenore is about to finish her coursework for a master’s in social work
and will graduate in December 2022 from Monmouth University.
Lenore married the love of her life, Alicia Pettiford, in 2020.
Together they provide a loving household for Lenore’s son Jonathan and
have purchased two homes, one of which is a dream home, something she
never thought would be possible.
As her own life comes full circle, Lenore is a walking, breathing
and beautiful example of how courage and determination and an
excellent work ethic, and not necessarily an affluent background, is
much of what’s needed to succeed. It’s her life story that inspires
clients to keep trying. Lenore welcomes families, many of whom are
fearful and desperate for help, with love and a true heart. A
compassionate nurturer by nature, Lenore is the first person to offer
her clients a warm hug when they are scared, a warm bed when they have
nowhere to turn, and an open door so that no matter where life leads
them, they always have hope and a place to call home with an angel
named Lenore waiting in the wings at Family Promise.
As a social worker and even during her formative years, Lenore has
been a mentor to so many women who, like herself, have incredible
obstacles to overcome before achieving success which all stated as an
employee for the Visiting Nursing of America VNA as a Family Support
Worker. Later, Lenore went to work as a Parent coach working with the
YMCA in Monmouth County, then went on to Community Affairs and
Resource working with unemployed Adults. Lastly, she went on to work
with the Children’s Home Society of NJ, as a Community Health Worker,
serving Monmouth and Ocean County Families. Many of the families she
serves are financially struggling, under-employed single women who are
raising children. She not only provides them with temporary housing,
and the tools for financial assistance and life skills and employment
training through Lunch Break’s Life Skills Program, Lenore is their
guide to self-sufficiency.
Lenore’s compassion and determination to help others struggling
against the odds, just as she once did not too long ago. She never
lets a cry for help go unanswered, mostly sacrificing personal time to
assist her extended family. Lenore’s career is a vocation — one she
considers her life’s purpose. You feel immediately welcome in her
presence, as well as loved, cared for and hopeful. You’d never know if
she was weary from hearing countless tales of desperation. Rather.
It’s these stories that energize her to keep reaching higher to help
end the cycle of poverty for so many of our community members.
Everyone should have a friend and mentor like Lenore.