Winter 2023 Newsletter





Not only did Ava Mohammed get accepted to Red Bank Catholic High School; she earned a full scholarship!


With an “A” average at Mercy Center’s Sisters Academy of New Jersey, her teachers were not surprised, but Ava sure was…


“I read the email, and I could not believe it. I said to myself, ‘Is this true?’ Then I read it again, and it was true!”


The 14-year-old from Neptune City is considering going out for basketball or volleyball at RBC, and definitely wants to continue dance. “I’m very excited to start in September. It’s going to be a new experience.”

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The 8th grader – who’s currently taking Algebra I – says the academic rigor and structure at Sisters Academy have put her on a path to success. “I think honestly, I wouldn’t be at RBC, or anything like it, if I had been at public school. I feel like the environment in public school wouldn’t have pushed me the way the Academy has pushed me.”


Sisters Academy is a tuition-free middle school for underserved girls, grades four through eight. We are proud that 100% of our students graduate from high school.


Ava added, “The mentality here is… if you’re going to work hard, you’ll get it. And, if you want it, you have to work hard.”


Interested in sponsoring a girl from the greater Asbury Park area to attend Mercy Center’s Academy of New Jersey? Email Linda Kellner at lkellner@mercycenternj.org, or make a donation of any amount to support our school and programs.








On a windy, forty-degree day in mid-February, we met “Miguel” waiting for food on line outside Mercy Center’s Expanded Food Pantry.


He was wearing only shorts, sandals, and a flannel.


Miguel explained that he and his family just arrived in Asbury Park from Nicaragua, and they had no food or warm clothes.


“At least this little guy has a coat,” he told us in Spanish about the toddler in his arms.


Miguel and his son were among the 174 families served at Mercy Center’s special “Food is Love” Valentine’s Day distribution to commemorate the One-Year Anniversary of our Expanded Food Pantry. Everyone received fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, and all the staples needed to feed their families – as well as Valentine’s Day chocolates.


Our Pantry, that serves Asbury Park and the greater Monmouth County area, is experiencing the increased struggles of our community first-hand. In 2022, we served more than 35,000 of our neighbors in need, significantly up from 1,558 people we served the year before. The sharp rise in inflation has made basic food unaffordable for families right here at the Jersey Shore.


Please consider donating today to help Mercy Center keep up with the demand and feed more of our neighbors in need, like Miguel and his son.

After Miguel “shopped” for food at Mercy Center’s choice Expanded Food Pantry, he and his son went across the street for the Clothes Distribution part of our event.


Miguel received a coat to keep warm this winter, as well as shoes and pants. The two women he joined there were also able to find coats.


We also caught up with Jasmine Thornton of Asbury Park in the warehouse where tables were filled with shirts, sweaters, jackets, and more. Jasmine was picking out baby booties. “I feel like this is amazing. It’s very, very helpful. I’m having my third child in April.”


“It is critically important to serve women, children, and families… and to serve the migrants,” said The Honorable Mary Catherine Cuff, Mercy Center Board Chair, as the line waiting for clothes grew longer and around the building.


“People need help today, not tomorrow. It’s the spirit of kindness, and it’s the mission of Mercy Sisters to give that kindness around the world,” said Sister Rosemary Jeffries, Mercy Center Board Member.


Meanwhile, another man who spoke with us, Thomas, said Mercy Center’s Clothes Distribution will also help him find a job. “Yeah, they have dress shirts. I don’t have any dress shirts for interviews.”


Please consider giving a gift to Mercy Center to help us continue our mission to “Empower, Enrich, and Educate.”